OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A sheriff and three deputies pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to violating the civil rights of two men by beating and intimidating them during questioning about a burglary.

Lincoln County Sheriff James Ray McLain, 45, and deputies Scott Wintz, 25, Kelly Charles Crary, 24, and Jerry Lee Rich, 46, agreed to resign from their offices immediately. They had been arrested Nov. 1 by agents of the FBI and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

U.S. Attorney Bill Price said McLain pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to deprive an individual of his civil rights and one count of conspiracy to intimidate witnesses.

He said Crary and Rich each pleaded guilty to two counts of deprivation of civil rights and two counts of conspiracy to deprive an individual of civil rights. Wintz pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate civil rights and one count of deprivation of civil rights, he said.

McLain and the deputies will be held in the Oklahoma County Jail until sentencing in six weeks to eight weeks. The sheriff could be sentenced to 17 years in prison while Crary and Rich could face four years each, and Wintz could receive a two-year sentence.

FBI Special Agent Ronald A. Hoverson said the FBI arrested the four men based on criminal complaints accusing them of conspiracy to injure, oppress, threaten and intimidate two men in violation of their constitutional rights.

The complaints alleged that on Oct. 15 and 16, Trent Michael Wrenn, 27, of Davenport was taken to McLain's office in Chandler where he was threatened, beaten with nightsticks, kicked and hit with fists.

It also alleged that on Oct. 16, Dusun Lamont Washington, 17, of Chandler was taken to the sheriff's office, threatened and beaten with nightsticks while being questioned about a burglary.

McLain's attorney, Stephen Fabian Jr., said his client had failed to exercise control over his deputies. ''Some of it did happen and there's no way we could change that,'' he said.

''They were beaten,'' Price said. ''Any law officer beating someone and intimidating them not to go to the FBI is a serious offense.

''He not only threatened them not to go to the FBI but he threatened to kill them,'' Price said.