RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ Three years after he was brought in to clean up the state Highway Patrol, the commander of the force is retiring early because of a scandal of his own.

Col. E.W. Horton announced Tuesday he would end his 35-year patrol career because of revelations that some building supply companies gave him free bricks and beams to build his home in 1995. He once testified in a sworn deposition that he had paid a discount rate for the supplies.

Patrol regulations forbid troopers from accepting gifts that could be construed as any form of favoritism, and Gov. Jim Hunt ordered an investigation into the matter last week.

Horton was named head of the patrol after an embarrassing scandal that led to the early retirement of former commander Robert Barefoot.

Barefoot left the agency when his friendship with the head of a stolen-goods ring became public. The head of the ring also employed several troopers in their off hours.