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Former jail administrator files new lawsuit

Projects Editor

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Fired former jail administrator Gerry Billy has filed a new lawsuit against Curry County under the state Whistleblower Protection Act. The action comes just days after a federal judge rejected his claim of wrongful termination.

Among Billy’s claims in the latest lawsuit filed Friday in 9th Judicial District Court are that he was fired for:

• Complaining that as much as 86 percent of jail inmates were Hispanic.

• Demanding an expensive jail kitchen renovation after state authorities threatened to shut it down for finding mold and a roach infestation.

• Trying to correct chronic overcrowding.

• Refusing a directive from County Manager Lance Pyle to fire a jail employee for federally protected collective bargain activities.

Billy’s new lawsuit also claims since his departure there have been documented cases of use of excessive force and allegations of a jail officer dealing drugs in the juvenile unit.

Pyle declined to address the allegations, noting a county policy that forbids commenting on any pending litigation.

A federal judge dismissed Billy’s original wrongful termination lawsuit on Sept. 30. Billy’s attorney Eric Dixon said he plans to appeal a portion of that decision.

Billy was fired Jan. 8, 2013, in a surprise decision by county commissioners. He was escorted from county property by sheriff’s deputies, the 12th administrator to leave the facility in 11 years.

Tori Sandoval was named interim administrator and later given Billy’s job on a full-time basis.

The new lawsuit seeks specific damages that include two times the amount of back pay, court costs and lawyer fees and “such further and additional relief as the Court may deem appropriate,” according to court records.