Former Nowata County deputy arrested, charged with embezzlement

NOWATA COUNTY, Okla. — A mystery surrounding six missing guns from a local sheriff’s office may now be solved as one of their former deputies is accused of having some of them.

Those guns disappeared years ago, but a new affidavit said someone on the former Nowata County deputy’s property found a piece of one of the guns, which led to the discovery of another.

The deputy, Thomas Campbell, was fired from the Nowata County Sheriff’s Office years ago but was recently working there as a reserve deputy.

The sheriff told FOX23 on Tuesday that he revoked the man’s commission to be a reserve deputy last month because of this investigation.

The former Nowata County deputy turned reserve deputy was arrested after a new affidavit said some of the sheriff’s office’s missing guns were found on his property.

According to the affidavit, Campbell, also known as Chip, used to own a gun store.

At some point, multiple firearms that were owned by the Nowata County Sheriff’s Office were brought to Campbell’s store to be kept there.

The affidavit went on to say when Campbell’s store closed, Campbell took the Nowata County Sheriff’s Office firearms to his residence in Nowata County.

The affidavit said the sheriff’s office didn’t realize the guns were missing until 2018 when the state did a turnover audit.

During an interview, Campbell denied ever housing the firearms at the gun store.

Now, years later, a discovery was made.

The affidavit said in April 2024, at the property where Campbell lives, a family member of the owner of the property was out looking for mushrooms and found an AR-15 lower receiver in an old tea jar. That AR-15 lower receiver was turned over to the Nowata County Sheriff’s Office.

The serial number on the receiver matched that of the missing AR-15 from the sheriff’s office.

This led to a search warrant on Campbell’s home in June where investigators said they found another one of the missing guns, a Ruger Mini-14.

Campbell is charged with one count of embezzlement.

He posted his $5,000 bond and is set to appear back in court on July 29.

The OSBI is the agency investigating and they said they will release more information in the days to come.

Campbell was hired as a deputy in December of 2016 under one sheriff.

He was fired in April of 2017 by another sheriff, but the affidavit doesn’t say why.

He was re-hired in March of 2019 as a reserve by a third sheriff.

That was until the current sheriff revoked Campbell’s commission last month due to this investigation.

FOX23 will provide further updates as more information becomes available.

Ben Morgan

Ben Morgan

News Editor

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