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Klamath Sheriff Denies Allegations Of Retaliation

<p>Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah</p>

Samantha Tipler

Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah

Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah spoke publicly for the first time Thursday since seven sheriff's deputies requested to be placed on administrative leave last month.

Oregon's Department of Justice is conducting a criminal investigation into Skrah.

"I have not been informed of the focus of the DOJ investigation," said Skrah. "I do not know and I have not been informed as to dates, times, locations nor the names of anyone involved."

During a press conference, Skrah defended his decision to remain in office while the investigation continues. The Klamath County Board of Commissioners requested he take administrative leave.

"Whatever the results that process takes, I will continue to do the job the people have elected me to do. I make no excuse for the course I have set and the results of those efforts," said Skrah.

Last month, seven sheriff's deputies requested to be placed on administrative leave after they were interviewed by the DOJ. Eugene attorney Becky Gallagher, who represents the Klamath County Peace Officers Association, said the deputies requested to be placed on leave because they feared retaliation from Skrah.

Klamath County Board of Commissioners granted their request. In response, Skrah filed a legal complaint against the county commissioners with the circuit court. The legal complaint alleged that Klamath County commissioners usurped the sheriff’s authority by granting the paid leave.

The deputies recently returned to work after a legal settlement was reached last Friday. At the press conference, Skrah denied taking any kind of retaliatory action against the deputies.

"I have done no harm to anyone," wrote Skrah in a statement sent out Thursday. "I was elected to do a job and I will continue to do that job."

In a letter to the board, also released Thursday, Skrah said he would not dismiss the complaint against the commissioners, despite the settlement that allowed the deputies to return to work.

Skrah said he has used his personal funds as a legal retainer in the case, and he wants the county to agree to pay the legal fees in the case.

Copyright 2015 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Amanda Peacher