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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 29, 2017

Former Henry County deputy files lawsuit against sheriff

By Brooks Taylor, Golden Triangle News Service | May 08, 2017

MT. PLEASANT (GTNS) – A former Henry County Sheriff’s deputy has filed a lawsuit against his former supervisor and employer.

Brandon Marquardt filed the suit Wednesday in South Lee County District Court against Henry County Sheriff Rich McNamee and Henry County. Marquardt is seeking unspecified damages for past, present and future lost income; past, present and future emotional distress; and damage to name and reputation.

In the two-count lawsuit, Marquardt is alleging he was a victim of a violation of the whistleblower’s protection statute and defamation of character.

Marquardt served as a deputy county sheriff from Oct. 24, 2011, until he left the department March 20, 2017. In his petition, Marquardt contends he was forced to resign. According to the petition, the termination of Marquardt’s employment was not truly voluntary on his part, but was a constructive discharge based on the harassment of the plaintiff by the defendants.

The petition alleges, “In October 2016, the plaintiff informed his supervisors that another deputy employed by the Henry County Sheriff’s Department was interfering with drug investigations, was providing information to subjects of drug investigations and that this other deputy sheriff was involved in illegal activities.”

Marquardt, also in October 2016, reported to his supervisors — including McNamee — that another deputy sheriff of the department was committing illegal acts and was involved in illegal and/or improper activities as well as violations of the rules and regulations of the department.

While making and after making the allegations, Marquardt contends that he was protected by the whistleblower protections set forth in Iowa Code.

Marquardt said after making allegations that another deputy had violated the rules and regulations of the department, he was placed on administrative leave. Later, he alleges he was told he had violated the rules and regulations of the department and would be subject to disciplinary action.

The plaintiff said after making the allegations, he was subjected to continued and prolonged harassment from the sheriff and members of the department. The harassment, Marquardt says, “was not limited to the Henry County Sheriff making false statements about him, but the sheriff encouraging other members of law enforcement agencies to make false statements about him.”

Marquardt said the harassment and actions taken against him were taken only because he chose to make allegations that another law enforcement officer was violating the law as well as violating rules and regulations of the department.

He said that since leaving the sheriff’s department, he has applied for other employment but alleges members of the sheriff’s department and the county attorney’s office have contacted prospective employers of the plaintiff and made false statements to prospective employers.

“The statements made by representatives of Henry County are defamatory in themselves and/or defamatory by implication,” the petition said.

Marquardt has demanded a jury trial. He is being represented by Curtis Dial, a Keokuk attorney. McNamee said Thursday that he would have no comment on the lawsuit.

“I haven’t been served and have no comment. The first I heard of it was in published reports.”

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