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The former sheriff of San Juan County has been charged with misusing public funds during his time in office.

The lone charge against Mike Lacy, 61, is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. It was filed Tuesday in state court in Monticello.

Lacy had no comment when reached by telephone Thursday. A spokesman for the San Juan County Sheriff's Office, which investigated the case, also declined comment.

Court papers do not specify in what way or how much Lacy allegedly stole, but the offense date is listed as Nov. 10, 2010. That's a week after Lacy lost his bid for a fifth term in office.

Lacy has been issued a summons to appear in 7th District Court on Oct. 31.

Before being elected sheriff, Lacy spent 20 years as a Utah Highway Patrol trooper. Lacy's father was San Juan County sheriff for two terms.

Lacy garnered media attention for two big events during his years in office. In May 1998, three self-styled Rambo survivalists killed a police officer in Cortez, Colo., wounded a San Juan County Sheriff's deputy then disappeared into the vast desert near Hovenweep National Monument.

Law enforcement officers from all over the country poured into San Juan County. Lacy oversaw the operation. The bodies of all three fugitives were recovered eventually, although their deaths are still shrouded in mystery.

Then in 2009, federal law enforcement indicted 26 people, most of them from San Juan County, for trafficking in stolen American Indian artifacts. Lacy's brother was one of the defendants. Armed federal agents entered homes unannounced. Lacy criticized what he saw as overreaching prosecution and unnecessary show of force.

Twitter: @natecarlisle