Missouri sheriff charged in domestic dispute kidnapping plot resigns

(The Center Square) – A county sheriff charged with participating in alleged “criminal street gang activities” resigned from his office Wednesday before the start of a civil trial to remove him.

Republican Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey filed a quo warranto petition to remove Iron County Sheriff Jeffrey Burkett after he was criminally charged in a nine-count indictment by the Washington County prosecutor last year.

Bailey also filed a quo warranto last year to remove St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner from office. A quo warranto allows for removal of an elected official from office if proven unable or unworthy to serve.

“Missourians have seen firsthand what happens when elected officials fail to enforce the law: it’s utter chaos,” Bailey said in a statement. “We kept the pressure up and he resigned because he knew we were going to win at trial this week.”

Burkett was elected as sheriff in 2020 and began serving the county’s 9,048 residents on Jan. 1, 2021.

Burkett and two deputies were charged last March and Bailey filed his two-count, 14-page quo warranto last summer. It provided lengthy details of allegations Burkett helped Rick Gaston, an Iron County resident, with a plot to kidnap Gaston’s children from their mother after a domestic dispute.

Bailey’s petition to remove Burkett stated he “abused his power and authority as an elected sheriff by encouraging other law enforcement officers to make illegal arrests and detentions … knowing that he had no jurisdiction or authority and knowing that the arrests and seizures lacked any probable cause or reasonable suspicion, thus knowingly violating the Constitutional rights … under the Missouri and United States Constitutions, and subjecting unsuspecting fellow law enforcement officers in neighboring counties to potential civil and criminal liability.”

Multiple media outlets reported Burkett’s criminal trial hasn’t been scheduled.

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