LONDON, Ky. (CN) - A Kentucky sheriff arrested a judge executive on bogus charges to try to settle a political score, the judge claims in Federal Court.
William Smith, Judge Executive of Jackson County since 2006, sued Denny Peyman, both individually and as Jackson County Sheriff.
Smith says he and Peyman had been "engaged in well publicized disagreements as to how they were each managing their respective offices" before he was arrested, and had filed lawsuits against one another in state court.
According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Judge Smith advanced more than $600,000 the Sheriff's Office to help cover payroll, but the sheriff has yet to pay back more than $277,000, which led the fiscal court to take control of the sheriff's finances and creation of an alternate police force.
"Peyman now only has one employee besides himself and patrols in a beat-up Ford Mustang," the Herald-Leader reported.
In the new lawsuit, Smith claims that "during a regularly scheduled Fiscal Court meeting, the defendant Peyman physically took into custody the plaintiff and caused him to be detained and taken to the Jackson County Detention Center. The defendant did so in the presence of a media contingent he had previously notified to be present."
The lawsuit continues: "In causing the arrest of the plaintiff, the defendant Peyman signed court documents indicating that the plaintiff Smith was being charged with several felonies, including tampering with public records, second degree forgery, falsifying business records, criminal facilitation, abusive process and taking part in organized crime through extortion or coercion."
Smith says Peyman knew the charges were false but arrested him anyway, in retaliation for Smith's critical comments on how the Sheriff's Office was being run.
The Herald-Leader reported that Peyman "filed the charges on his own initiative, without getting a warrant from a judge or an indictment from a grand jury."
The prosecutor assigned to the case refused to proceed, citing lack of evidence, and the charges were dismissed, according to the complaint.
Smith seeks more than $5 million in punitive damages for First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations, malicious prosecution and false imprisonment; he claims Peyman notified the media about the arrest in order to publicly humiliate him.
He is represented by Ned Pillersdorf of Pillersdorf, DeRossett and Lane in Prestonsburg, Ky.