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Manila • Daggett County law enforcement, already rocked by allegations of misconduct by jail staff, took another blow Monday with the resignation of Sheriff Jerry Jorgensen.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Susie Potter, who said Jorgensen's "voluntary" resignation was effective Sunday, added that it was Jorgensen who had requested an investigation in early January about "possible mistreatment of inmates."

Jorgensen's departure "came because of his desire to help the county move forward in the process with Utah Department of Corrections to return inmates to the Daggett County jail," Potter said. "He felt a clean break with a new sheriff would facilitate that more quickly."

Utah's most northeastern county of about 1,100 residents who largely rely on small businesses related to tourism at Flaming Gorge Reservoir and ranching for income has been working its way through an unusual controversy after the Department of Corrections pulled all of its inmates — and the monthly revenue from housing those inmates — from the jail in February.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes' office is investigating the alleged misconduct.

Five days before Jorgensen's resignation was made public, Lt. Ben Lail, the former jail commander, resigned. Two other unnamed employees under Lail were fired. So far the county has been able to keep the remaining employees on staff.

"Hopefully they resolve this because of the lack of jobs in that county," said Brian Nelson, a part-time resident of Manila, the county's seat, which straddles Utah's border with Wyoming. "They're important, good-paying jobs."

The loss of inmates at the county jail is the second hit to the sheriff's office in less than a year. The county lost a roughly $633,000 contract to cover security at Flaming Gorge Dam in 2016. The dam is now guarded by a private security company.

Many residents commute to cities in Wyoming for work or drive an hour toward Vernal for work at a phosphate mine.

While the latest Census put the population around 1,100, that figure includes children under working age and retirees. Forty-five percent of the population in 2015 was either over 65 or younger than 18 years old. Just 638 were registered to vote in the past election.

It's difficult to assess the exact impact the jail has on the county's job market. The acting county attorney, Chad Woolley, advised the sheriff's office and county employees not to speak publicly about anything.

"My advice to them is right now with the ongoing investigation, I wouldn't meet with [the media] and talk about this stuff yet," Woolley said last week.

Some won't discuss official business unrelated to the investigation.

"I am very, very hesitant to speak to anything," said Commissioner Jack Lytle, who added the county was trying to "get through this, recognizing that there's criminal investigations occurring that are out of our control at this stage of the game and we don't condone any illegal activity."

About 15 employees worked at the jail. Two employees were fired and Lail and Jorgensen resigned. The sheriff's home telephone number is unlisted and efforts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.

Daggett County was paid about $1.35 million for inmate housing services in fiscal 2016, money that accounted for nearly 30 percent of the county's revenue.

To avoid having to cut the remaining jobs, the county recently transferred $120,000 to keep employees on staff, fearing it would be unable to recruit replacements or rehire employees who left. That's a significant portion of the county's fund balance, but it was able to absorb the pressure.

"The $120,000 loss will be tough, but we can get through that," said Keri Pallesen, the county's auditor/recorder. "More than that is going to be much more difficult."

Capt. Chris Collett, the chief deputy under Jorgensen, will remain in charge of the office Monday and the County Commission will appoint a temporary sheriff Tuesday, according to a release Potter sent Monday afternoon. The county Republican Party will then recommend next steps.

Meanwhile, Daggett County is working with the Uintah County Sheriff's Office on a proposal to send employees over the Uinta Mountains to Vernal.

Under the arrangement, which Collett said was not finalized, Uintah County would cover some or all of the Daggett County employees' pay.

Uintah County Sheriff Vance Norton didn't immediately respond to requests for comment on the proposed arrangement but said last week he would have more information after the Daggett County Commission meets Tuesday.

Daggett County documents show that, under the "best scenario," the jail would be refilled with 80 inmates at a rate of $52 per inmate per day by the third week in June.

Attorney general's office spokesman Daniel Burton declined Monday to discuss Jorgensen's resignation specifically, only confirming the office is "working closely with the Utah Department of Corrections to answer any outstanding questions or conduct interviews from that investigation."

Burton reiterated that the investigation will take time.

"As urgently as we desire to see justice done in this case, we must be as careful and methodical as we are in reviewing and screening all of our cases," he said. "That is the only way to protect the integrity of the process and the rights of those involved."

In February, the Utah Department of Corrections moved more than 80 state inmates out of the jail — emptying the facility — after Jorgensen learned of "inappropriate behavior" by employees. Specific details about the alleged misconduct remain undisclosed.

Residents in town are quick to talk about the rumors around the misconduct and who was involved, but none would do so on the record. Many know or have relatives working at the jail.

"A lot of good people rely on that jail," said Sharon Hirsch, of Manila.

Department of Corrections Executive Director Rollin Cook has stated that the case "involves multiple, distressing allegations among line staff and command staff in the Daggett County jail. These are serious, criminal allegations, involving unprofessional conduct and unacceptable correctional practices, which put the inmates and the public in jeopardy."

Potter earlier said that the allegations do not involve drugs or sex — which are common issues in jails — or that inmates were ever endangered.

She said Monday that Jorgensen had "personally" asked UDC to investigate the case in early January after "information came to him involving possible mistreatment of inmates.

"He recognized the allegations as very serious and took decisive action."

Jorgensen started with Daggett County in October 2007 as its jail commander. He was elected sheriff in 2010, and re-elected in 2014 election.

"He ... has served the people of Daggett County with honor and integrity," Potter stated Monday. "We wish him the best. He will be missed."