Charge: OK Sheriff Unlawfully Abandoned Patients by Freeing Sick Inmates


Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel is being accused of releasing sick inmates before they are admitted to the hospital in order to avoid paying for their treatment, reports The Oklahoman. In one case, an inmate accused of robbery was released on their own recognizance even though he or she wasn’t in court when the judge signed the order. The University of Oklahoma Medical Center claims the sheriff’s office owes the hospital nearly $1 million and accuses Whetsel of essentially abandoning patients to circumvent a state law that requires counties to pay for the medical costs of prisoners in their custody. Attorneys for the hospital allege that Whetsel has developed a practice of “unlawful abandonment of patients.” From March 2011 to February, the lawsuit alleges the hospital treated 37 inmates from the Oklahoma County jail. The hospital claims those medical bills totaled $976,487. The sheriff’s office has paid only $52,402 of that total.

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