Lawsuit alleges Adams County sheriff retaliated in opposition to former deputies over political marketing campaign, violated Constitutional rights

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Days after taking workplace in 2019, Adams County Sheriff Richard Reigenborn pressured 4 senior members to resign as a result of they’d supported his opponent within the sheriff’s race — then he stuffed the positions together with his less-qualified mates and supporters, in line with a lawsuit filed earlier this month by these 4 former sheriff’s deputies.
Former Chiefs Timothy James Coates and Gene Claps, together with former Captain Mark Mitchell and former Commander Kevin Currier filed the lawsuit July 1 in opposition to Reigenborn and the Adams County Sheriff’s Workplace, alleging Reigenborn violated their rights to free speech and due course of when he instructed them to resign or be fired one week after he took workplace after profitable in an upset.
“Actually dumped out on the curb after a 29-year profession with no clarification, no something,” Mitchell mentioned in an interview Thursday, describing how he needed to name his spouse for a trip residence from exterior the sheriff’s workplace.
A spokesman for the sheriff’s workplace declined to remark for this story due to the pending lawsuit.
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All 4 plaintiffs supported Reigenborn’s Republican opponent within the sheriff’s race, incumbent Michael McIntosh, in line with the lawsuit, by donating to his marketing campaign and publicly backing him. In addition they withdrew assist from the Fraternal Order of Police Colorado Lodge 1, the place Reigenborn served in varied management roles for years.
In particular person conferences on January 15, 2019, Reigenborn, who ran as a Democrat, instructed the 4 that he wished to “take the company in a special path” by making “cultural adjustments” designed to “get the troops in line,” in line with the lawsuit, introduced via legislation agency Rathod Mohamedbhai.
He refused to clarify what that path was, Mitchell mentioned, including that over his profession he’d labored for 4 totally different sheriffs, each Republicans and Democrats, and “politics by no means entered the image.”
“To say that we couldn’t match with the brand new path, with out us even understanding what it was, is mind-boggling,” Mitchell mentioned.
All 4 males resigned from the sheriff’s workplace in lieu of termination so as to preserve their retirement advantages, in line with the lawsuit.
“I devoted my whole life to Adams County,” Coates mentioned, including later that the pressured resignation has created a significant monetary loss. “It’s very painful to out of the blue end up on the curb, and in my case I can’t get one other police job; I’m too previous.”
Reigenborn abolished present sheriff’s division insurance policies the day he took workplace and changed them together with his personal insurance policies that gave him sole authority to make hiring, promotion and firing selections, in line with the lawsuit. The brand new sheriff then employed or promoted at the very least 5 of his mates and supporters, in line with the lawsuit, which alleged the brand new hires have been much less certified for the roles than these the sheriff ousted.
Michael Bethel was employed as a division chief on Jan. 22, 2019, in line with a roster of sheriff’s workers. Bethel was fired from the Pueblo Police Division in 2006 after a intercourse tape surfaced that included him, his spouse and a person with a long-criminal historical past, The Denver Put up reported in 2015. He was acquitted of prison fees in reference to the intercourse tape’s discovery and later gained $20,000 in a federal lawsuit accusing Pueblo police management of discriminating in opposition to him due to his sexual preferences.
Bethel later turned chief of Rocky Ford, the place his son served as an officer regardless of prison convictions — some whereas he was a juvenile — that included use of a gun whereas drunk, careless driving and possession of drug paraphernalia, in line with prior The Denver Put up reviews.
Division Chief William Dunning was employed in Could 2019. He’d beforehand left the sheriff’s workplace within the mid-1990s and had been working as a RV salesman earlier than he was employed again into prime police management by Reigenborn, in line with the lawsuit. Dunning was initially employed as a civilian and has since been re-certified as a legislation enforcement officer, in line with the sheriff’s workplace.
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Dunning and Bethel couldn’t be reached for remark Thursday; a spokesman for the sheriff’s workplace mentioned they may not remark because of the pending litigation.
The lawsuit seeks financial damages, however Mitchell mentioned he hopes to additionally guarantee others within the division aren’t disadvantaged of due course of sooner or later.
“I would love a choice to be made that profession workers have some kind of due course of,” he mentioned, “and that an elected official can’t simply stroll in and do what occurred to us.”

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