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Ex-sheriff Loses Bid for Uniform Allowance

Ex-sheriff Loses Bid for Uniform Allowance

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CEDAR CITY, Utah (AP) -- Just four days after former Iron County Sheriff David "Dude" Benson pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and misuse of public money, he asked the county to pay him the sheriff's uniform allowance for time he was on leave, under suspicion -- and out of uniform.

Chief Deputy County Auditor Christene Keene said the request was being denied.

"If it were anybody but me, they would pay up," Benson said. "They can take all the cheap shots they want -- I am still standing. They can keep their uniform allowance. The bottom line is I am moving on with my life and I am sorry they are not."

Benson, who will be sentenced Nov. 3, was on paid administrate leave from the sheriff's office from May 14, 2003, until he resigned Friday in a plea deal. He was accused of taking $18,729 by cashing checks made out to the sheriff's department, and he agreed to pay restitution. He said dragging the case out would be costly to the county.

"He was bleeding Friday, saying that he was saving the county money and he was doing the honorable thing, but by the way, can I get $780?" Keene said. "I am in the process of sending out a letter today that denies the request."

According to records at the auditor's office, Benson's received $98,490.53, since he went on leave in May.

Benson said while on leave, he did incur expenses relative to a uniform because he kept his uniforms and equipment up to date, believing that he was going to retake office as a sheriff.

Although officers get a $780 a year uniform allowance, the prorated amount Benson could have received for January through August would have been $520.

Keene said officers on paid administrative leave or extended sick leave are not able to qualify for the uniform reimbursement.

"They wouldn't receive the payment for the time period they are not actively working," she said. "There is no need to issue an allowance when they are not wearing a uniform."

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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