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Article 7: Dec. 23, 2021
Manning’s brother named under sheriff
By Chris Willingham
Sixth of a series

Sheriff Kevin Clardy on Tuesday appointed Captain of All Officers Alicia Manning’s brother, Mike Manning, 47, of Valliant to undersheriff of the sheriff’s department, Manning said in an interview Wednesday.

Manning has been a reserve deputy for 19 years and is certified as a reserve officer, but not a full-time certified CLEET officer.

Previous to being appointed undersheriff, Manning said he has been the chief of police in Sawyer for the past three months.

Manning said he plans to start the CLEET academy in January to be a full-time certified officer.

Also on Tuesday, the county jail trust voted to make former under-sheriff Larry Hendrix the new county jail administrator.

Manning said the county commissioners were happy about his appointment to undersheriff on Tuesday.

“The commissioners are all aware of my appointment and they’re all glad that I’m here. They know my family history, who I am and that I’m here for the people,” he said.

Manning said he doesn’t want to cause problems as undersheriff and hopes to see a good working relationship between the newspaper and the sheriff’s department.

“I think the sheriff’s department and the paper should be working together. I think the paper is a great tool to be used,” Manning said.

Manning said he has also believes strongly in the Constitution as a police officer and that helping and protecting people is something he’s deeply passionate about.

“I’m a Constitutional guy. I believe you follow the Constitution and you follow the laws of the state.”

“I believe everything should be by the book and I don’t have a problem with you guys doing what you do (referring to the newspaper). The law’s the law.”

“I’m not here to get into any-body’s business, but I’m not here to be a whipping post, either,” Manning said.

Under current state law, it appears Manning would not be qualified to be sheriff, as he hasn’t served in a full-time capacity as an officer for more than four years.

As of Wednesday, Manning’s business, IN-Sight Technologies, holds ongoing county contracts, including at the sheriff’s department, but Manning said he resigned from the company on Wednesday.

He said the business is an S-corporation, which he sold to his wife.

“I was CEO of the corporation, but I sold it to Tamara, my wife. She got 100 percent of the shares (of the corporation). I’m not retaining anything,” he said.

In the past month there has been a mass exodus of employees from the sheriff’s department following more than a year’s worth of controversies this newspaper has covered in this series.

On Nov. 24 in an interview with this newspaper, Clardy said the department had 22 officers capable of responding to calls.

The paper requested the sheriff’s department’s most recent payroll and it appears there are now between 12 to 14 officers capable of taking calls, including Clardy and the Manning siblings.

Those controversies included allegations by many employees of a sexual affair between Clardy and Alicia Manning. The first article resulted in Clardy allegedly telling all employees “anybody who talks to Chris is fired,” a statement witnessed by several employees who spoke to the paper.

Since that statement was allegedly made Nov. 24, Mike and Alicia Manning are the only sheriff’s department employees that have spoken at all to Gazette reporter Chris Willingham. Employees have been fired since and others have resigned.

Some of those controversies and the resulting newspaper stories were brought up in federal court Dec. 17 in Muskogee in a hearing for Kevin Ward, 37, of Broken Bow, the newspaper learned.

Ward and another man were charged with three counts of shooting with intent to kill in the May 2020 shooting of a 17-year-old teen on Mountain Fork River.

About 40 minutes after the newspaper interviewed Mike Manning on Wednesday, the sheriff’s department posted the announcement of his appointment on the department’s Facebook page.

When this newspaper first contacted the sheriff’s department Wednesday to confirm Manning was the new undersheriff, the call was first cut off when a reporter asked who the undersheriff was. A reporter called back and asked to speak to the sheriff and was told he was not available Wednesday.

Reporters then went to the sheriff’s department with a state statute stating the sheriff must provide a list of current undersheriff and deputies, and the information is available to the public upon request. At that point, a reporter was allowed to interview Manning.