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Fired Deputy's Personnel File Filled with Praise

June 30, 2002

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Fired Deputy's Personnel File Filled with Praise

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by Jason Riley, The Courier-Journal

A Bullitt County sheriff's deputy who was told that he was fired because of citizen complaints had nothing but letters of praise from the community in his personnel file.

Sheriff Paul Parsley fired Gary Wilson and two other employees on May 29, the day after Parsley was re-elected. The employees claimed they were fired because they supported his opponent, Rodney Hockenbury, in the primary.

Wilson said Parsley told him he was being fired for being rude and swearing at citizens. But there were no written grievances or disciplinary action taken against Wilson, according to records in his file, which was obtained by The Courier-Journal through the Kentucky Open Records Act.

Wilson and the two other fired employees - Nancy Kerns, an office clerk, and another deputy, James Dockery - said they plan to sue the county over the dismissals.

But Louisville attorney Thomas Clay, who is representing them, said he expects to reach a settlement with the county in the next week.

Wilson, who had worked for the department since 1994, asked to see the complaints after being told that he was fired. "They had nothing to supply me. They just exited me out of the building," he said last month.

The other two employees, who had worked at the department for more than 30 years combined, have said they were just told their services were no longer needed.

On Wednesday, Wilson said he has since received a copy of his personnel file and found no complaints.

"It was all political," he said. "They just drummed up excuses because I supported Rodney Hockenbury."

Parsley said one person filed a verbal complaint against Wilson at the sheriff's department, but it was never put into writing. Wilson's firing was at least partially based on this complaint, Parsley said, but he declined to elaborate. He also wouldn't discuss whether Wilson had any other problems during his eight years with the department.

Parsley said he didn't know of any plans for the employees to return to the department.

After Wilson was fired, Parsley told him he had planned to dismiss him before the election, "but he didn't want it to look political," Wilson said with a laugh.

Clay has drafted a lawsuit against the county but hasn't filed it. He said he is negotiating a settlement with attorneys for the sheriff's department.

County Attorney Walt Sholar was out of town and couldn't be reached for comment.

Wilson said he wants his job back along with back pay and "whatever else comes with it."

Among the 10 people who wrote letters of thanks to Wilson were a woman he drove home after she had a flat tire, a doctor he let go with a warning because of a broken speedometer, officials from schools where he had spoken and former Sheriff Lloyd "Shot" Dooley.

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