Former Sheriff's Office Employees Lawsuit Gets Green Light to go to Trial

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-- Valdosta, Ga. -- May 17, 2012 --

Sheriff Chris Prine took office on January 1, 2009. Around the same time, three sheriff's office employees were let go. Those employees are saying that they were wrongfully terminated.

The three former employees claim they were fired because they supported Sheriff Prine's opponent, J.D. Yeager, during the 2008 campaign. They filed an initial lawsuit in December of 2009. That lawsuit was dismissed by Judge Hugh Lawson in 2011, but on Tuesday
the ruling was overturned in a court of appeals.

Leanne Bennett is one of those former employees. She says "I was willing to work for the new sheriff, I've been an officer for a long time and I've worked for many different people, so I didn't have a problem going to work for him, but I wasn't given that opportunity."

Bennet says it was because Sheriff Prine's opponent is her brother. Yet the sheriff's lawyer, Rick Strickland, dismisses that claim.

Strickland says "there are folks that have other motivations. Politics, money.. those are the things that drive cases like this."

Eyewitness News reporter Eames Yates spoke to Sheriff Prine. The Sheriff said "there are two sides to every story and we'll wait till the facts come out in court."

A trial date has not yet been set.