Suspended Carbon County Sheriff Barry Bryner remained a patient in Castleview Hospital's stress unit Saturday, as state investigators continue to check into allegations that cocaine and marijuana are missing from his department's evidence room.
The status of the troubled sheriff's salary and retirement benefits is undergoing further review by the County Commission, which suspended Bryner at an emergency meeting Thursday night but post-dated the suspension of his pay until March 1, the day after Bryner qualifies to start collecting retirement.A hospital spokesman said Saturday that Bryner is not taking calls.
Bryner, 40, was first hospitalized on Wednesday for treatment of injuries he sustained when his car crashed at the end of a high-speed chase from Helper to Price. Helper officer Charlotte Salyer said she began chasing Bryner after he failed to respond to her command to stop about 2:30 a.m.
Bryner hid in a wooded area for almost two hours after his car crashed and was arrested when two officers jumped him and disarmed him.
A hospital spokesman said Bryner re-entered the hospital after posting a $10,000 cash bond with the sheriff's department Thursday. He had just been arraigned on one felony charge of fleeing an officer and a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.
The arraignment is set to continue March 8.
A state Narcotics and Liquor Law Enforcement agent stationed in Price is investigating reports that illegal narcotics, being held as evidence by the sheriff's department, are missing. Reports that the drugs were missing circulated through the grapevine to county officials.
"We heard the rumors like everyone else," said Carbon County Attorney Gene Strate, who confirmed that state investigators began a probe last week.
Chief Deputy Sheriff Jeral Cowan said he conducted an inventory of the evidence that revealed eight one-ounce bags of marijuana and several ounces of cocaine were missing.
Cowan said he conducted a brief internal investigation after contacting a member of the County Commission, who had also heard rumors the drugs had been improperly removed from a storage cabinet.
Cowan said he then turned the investigation over to the state because it is inappropriate for a law enforcement agency to investigate itself.
Acting Sheriff James Robertson said he has not had time to become fully apprised of the investigation. He disagreed with published reports that former Sheriff Ross Horsley failed to turn over an evidence log when Bryner took office in January 1987.
Robertson served as chief deputy under Horsley.
A Carbon County official outside the sheriff's department, who did not want to be named, said locks on the evidence storage vault and another door were changed after the drugs were reported missing.
Bryner admitted two weeks ago that he had an affair with a dispatcher and that he subsequently lied to investigators about it.
On Feb. 16 his membership in the Utah Sheriff's Association was revoked, and the association encouraged him to resign his elected post.
Bryner then lost his law enforcement powers Wednesday when the Peace Officers Standards and Training Division of the Utah Public Safety Department decertified him.
The County Commission suspended Bryner Thursday but may amend some of the actions it took Thursday.
County Commissioner Emma Kuykendall said she has received irate phone calls from people objecting to the fact that Bryner will be able to get his 20-year retirement as an employee of the sheriff's department after he becomes eligible Feb. 28. She said Bryner has paid into the retirement fund for many years and is entitled to the benefits.
Commissioners are looking into the possibility that it was illegal for them to suspend Bryner Thursday but delay suspending his pay until March 1, the day after he becomes eligible for retirement benefits. That matter is scheduled for discussion at the March 8 commission meeting.
Kuykendall said commissioners weren't sure whether they could suspend Bryner's pay because he is an elected official.