County / Sheriff dispute heads to court

Sheriff Joe Lester presents a breakdown of jail costs to the Cleveland County Budget Board on Monday, March 20, 2017.

Cleveland County Sheriff Joe Lester announced his retirement today and dismissed the lawsuit against Cleveland County Commissioners.

"This letter is to inform you that effective immediately, I am retiring from the position of sheriff of Cleveland County," Lester wrote in a letter to commissioners on Monday.

"I got a texted and emailed letter where Joe is resigning immediately with his signature, and our attorneys were contacted by his attorney saying that he is dismissing the lawsuit," said County Commissioner Darry Stacy. 

Lester filed a civil suit against the Board of County Commissioners on March 23, alleging they were not adequately funding the jail. The trial date was set for Wednesday, but depositions set for today and Tuesday were cancelled this morning, according to county commissioners.

The retirement and lawsuit dismissal comes on the heels of an operations audit released last month which identified possible mismanagement by Lester's office. Rumors that the attorney general's office was investigating Lester based on those audit findings were never confirmed. 

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