Following a judge’s recent acquittal of three Onondaga County sheriff’s deputies in a case involving the use of taxpayer dollars and falsification of time sheets, the men who were accused are turning the tables on District Attorney William Fitzpatrick.
According to Syracuse.com, Crayg Dykes, George Buckton, and Herb Wiggins were taken to court last year on what they believe were “trumped-up charges.” The complaint doesn’t stop there, though.
After being acquitted last fall by Onondaga County Judge Thomas Miller in a non-jury trial, Fitzpatrick quickly released a blistering statement about the deputies’ activities when they were supposed to be providing security for Centro buses as part of an arranged agreement.
“On two separate occasions, the three deputies in question were videotaped at various locations relaxing, watching TV, or eating,” Fitzpatrick said at the time. “Meanwhile they were nowhere near the Centro buses they had been hired to ride on nor were they anywhere near the citizens they were supposed to be protecting, despite their submitted time sheets indicating that they were so engaged.”
In addition to what the deputies believe were unfair charges, they’re arguing that Fitzpatrick libeled them with his aggressive statement. Even though they had been hired to provide security for the bus company and allegedly caught in the act of not performing those duties while “on the clock,” a stipulation in the contract agreement they had signed with Centro made the point void to Judge Miller.
According to the report, the contract allowed for the deputies to be paid while they were on call, and they, in fact, did not have to be technically riding the buses. The judge found there was no evidence that they would have been unavailable to respond in the event something did happen.
The deputies now say that the District Attorney’s office failed to properly investigate the accusations before taking them to trial and libeled them after the not guilty verdict was reached.
One of the deputies, Wiggins, has since retired while the other two remain employed as deputies. Although the deputies aren’t technically employees of the DA’s office, they do all work for the county, and it’s not completely out of the ordinary to see this happen. In fact, over the last 20 years, employee lawsuits have increased by an estimated 400% in the United States.
It’s unclear if the deputies have hired a lawyer yet. Neither side wanted to comment directly on the current claim as the case is ongoing.