Jackson sheriff, county strike back at lawsuit with new accusations


JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — We have new developments in the Jackson County Sheriff scandal.


Nearly two months after the controversy started, the tables are turning, as the sheriff and county government start making their own accusations.  


In separate federal court filings last week, both Sheriff Steve Rand and Jackson County called for the discrimination lawsuit launched by Lt. Tommy Schuette to be dropped and listed reasons why.


Rand’s filing says he never mistreated Schuette because of his hearing disability and made work accommodations for him. 


Schuette, a long-time employee of the sheriff’s office, says he lost hearing while working around explosives on the swat team.


But the county claims the hearing loss is due to his own actions off the job, including misusing firearms and touring with rocker Ted Nugent. 


Sheriff Rand accuses schuette of trying to extort the county.


A key piece of the lawsuit is audio clips of Rand making derogatory comments that were recorded by Schuette. 


The county’s filing says when Schuette met with county officials in January he demanded compensation and Rand’s termination, threatening to release the audio if he didn’t get what he wanted.


“He’s extremely angry because he’s been falsely accused,” said Jim Fett, who’s representing Schuette in the lawsuit.


The attorney says both sides are attacking his client to distract from their own misdeeds.


“It’s a false claim that my client ever linked any type of compensation with these tapes,” Fett said. “And we have an expert medical opinion that says the hearing loss was work related.”


The sheriff and his attorney did not respond to requests for comment.


Jackson County sent a statement to 6 News that says they stand by what was filed and continue to deny any wrong-doing.


“This is what happens to whistleblowers,” Fett said.


Fett anticipates the lawsuit will have its first day in court sometime over the next month.

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