County pays $225K to settle another lawsuit involving ousted sheriff
Rutherford County this week paid about $225,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by Tommy Thompson, a former sheriff’s department major who was fired by former Sheriff Robert Arnold, subsequently convicted of corruption charges and ousted from office.
The government cut a $224,999.60 check to settle the case Tuesday, County Finance Director Lisa Nolen said.
Thompson joins other former sheriff’s deputies to accept settlements in wrongful termination lawsuits, including a $340,000 award about a year ago to fired Deputy Chief Virgil Gammon.
Thompson and Gammon both said they provided information to a federal grand jury that indicted Arnold on 14 counts accusing the ex-sheriff of illegally profiting off inmates through the sale electronic cigarettes from a JailCigs business, according to their lawsuits. Thompson also spoke to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, his lawsuit states.
“Sheriff Arnold’s termination of Plaintiff’s employment was motivated by a desire to retaliate against Plaintiff for speaking up, to an outside county official, about a matter of public concern,” states the lawsuit filed Feb. 15 by Thompson’s attorney Jerry Martin.
…Arnold awaits sentencing that’s scheduled May 8.
…Prior to Arnold firing Thompson, the former major had been in charge of the jail, transport of prisoners to court and Judicial Building security.
…County Mayor Ernest Burgess made the decision to settle the case.
“Under the circumstances that occurred that led us believe that we had some culpability, we felt that this would be the best solution to the problem short of taking it to the court,” Burgess said during a Friday phone interview.