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Beleaguered Sheriff Kieran McMullen is vacating his office three months early.

The resignation comes four days before McMullen, his wife Helen and two others are expected to enter pleas at a Friday hearing on gambling-related charges, District Attorney Bret Burns said Monday evening.

“I have no comment on the resignation nor the plea deal set for Friday,” Burns said.

McMullen told an Express-Star reporter Monday evening that he was “retiring” and would be in today to “grab his stuff.” He made no reference to his legal troubles.

County Commissioner Jack Porter said Monday afternoon that McMullen had told him he was leaving “effective immediately.”

McMullen’s bright red Sheriff’s patrol car was seen parked Monday afternoon at the Chickasha office of his attorney, Ryland Rivas but McMullen told a newspaper representative later in the day that he had nothing to report about his status or any possible developments in his legal cae.

His departure comes two-years after the McMullens, and several other law enforcement officers were arrested in connection with illegal gambling uncovered during a raid on the Chickasha Elks Lodge.

The Sheriff, Helen McMullen, who was then a Chickasha police officer, deputy Robert Cacy and former deputy Delmer Barthelme are awaiting trial on charges connected with the Elks Lodge raid.

McMullen has been under fire for several questionable practices in the sheriff’s department over the past two years, the latest for authorizing the payment of thousands of dollars in compensatory time to Cacy and Barthelme. The payments were among the reasons Burns is asking the state auditor to conduct an audit of the Sheriff’s Department and jail.

County commissioners met in regular session Monday morning but there was no mention of what was to transpire later in the day.

“There was no formal resignation,” Porter said. “He told me personally that he would be resiging effective immediately and it was a ‘hard decision.’

Porter said it would be his recommendation that undersheriff Larry Crabb be apointed to oversee the Sheriff’s Department until a new sheriff can take over.

Art Kell and Austin Green face off in the Nov. 4 election to replace McMullen, who had been sheriff since 2003.

Porter said one scenario could be that commissioners would immediately appoint whoever was elected Nov. 4 to take over the office earlier than the scheduled January date.

“I will be ready should the commissioners be ready to appoint one of us to office,” Green said. “I feel I’m the better candidate because of my prior law enforcement and management experience and I would be ready to take over on day one.”

Kell said, “The voters of Grady County can finally have closure on the sheriff’s matter. The bottom line is, we need a new direction and change for the county. I have the experience to do the job, and I don’t have the ties to the ‘good old boys’ that have been in the department for over 30 years. That is why it is crucial to get a new bloodline in office, and I am the man for the job.”

Green was undersheriff during former Sheriff Stan Florence’s administration.

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