updated 7/29/2006 1:24:37 AM ET 2006-07-29T05:24:37

An Iowa sheriff was charged Friday with stealing $120,000 from bundles of cash seized when deputies stopped a suspicious vehicle in March.

Dallas County Sheriff Brian Gilbert, 43, was charged with felony theft and released from Polk County Jail in Des Moines after posting a $13,000 bond, according to Iowa Department of Public Safety spokesman Jim Saunders.

Gilbert’s attorney, F. Montgomery Brown, said he and his client are “going to defend this vigorously.” He said Gilbert plans to continue serving as sheriff, an office he has held since 2004.

Employees in Gilbert’s department raised concerns about the seized money which eventually led to an investigation by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

Deputies found $781,000 hidden in 27 small packets throughout a car that was stopped March 15 for having dark tinted windows. The money was photographed, then placed in Gilbert’s vehicle, according to investigators.

Photos taken the next day when the money was counted showed only 26 packets.

Gilbert told deputies he had stopped at his home on the way back to the office because he noticed his garage door was open, the arrest records state. Detectives searched Gilbert’s home in March but have not revealed what they found.

Gilbert took a paid leave of absence for seven weeks after the investigation into the missing money began. He returned to work on May 22.

“I know what I have and haven’t done,” Gilbert said then. “I did not steal any money from the sheriff’s office. I feel like they’ve had sufficient time to confirm that.”

No charges have been filed against the driver of the car that contained the cash.

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