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Sheriff's Office to be investigated

A special prosecutor has been appointed to investigate unspecified circumstances at the Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Office since the death of Sheriff Dennis John.

John died Aug. 18 after taking his own life. Undersheriff Timothy Whitcomb has been named acting sheriff.

District Attorney Edward M. Sharkey said on Thursday that Cattaraugus County Judge Larry M. Himelein named Wyoming County District Attorney Gerald L. Stout special prosecutor. Stout could not be reached to comment Thursday.

Sharkey said, "He will investigate some things I can't investigate involving the Sheriff's Department, but not John's death. Certain aspects have occurred in the department in the last weeks since his death."

He declined to be more specific.

Whitcomb said, "Our office has been turned upside-down. Everyone is struggling."

He also declined to be more specific, other than to say, "We welcome any independent inquiry and embrace the outcome. Our agency will be 100 percent cooperative about these crazy disrespectful allegations about our agency."

Whitcomb said he has been taking allegations daily to County Attorney Dennis B. Tobolski, who has now placed a gag order on the sheriff, Whitcomb said.

Sharkey said: The department is "still dealing with sheriff's death issues. We passed on it and turned it over to a special prosecutor to look into."

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