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Crudup still suing city
Oct 03, 2005 12:00 am
October 1, 2005
Even though he pleaded guilty to a single charge of misusing a city issued credit card, former Lebanon Purchasing Agent Johnny Crudup's legal battle with the city may not be over.
A potentially explosive 2002 federal court lawsuit filed on behalf of Crudup against the city, Mayor Don Fox and Personnel Director Jim Henderson "is still active," a spokesperson for the U.S. District Court Clerk's office said Friday.
Crudup earlier this week pleaded guilty to a count of theft of property and was placed on judicial diversion. Under terms outlined in court documents, the defendant was given a two-year suspended sentence and ordered to pay $7,829 restitution. If Crudup pays the full amount and has no brushes with the law for the two-year period, his record could be expunged, according to court documents.
District Attorney General Tommy Thompson noted his office opposed pretrial diversion – similar to a form of probation – in the case but did not object to judicial diversion for the defendant.
"That's strictly the judge's discretion and he (the defendant) met the criteria," Thompson said.
The DA said he felt "confident" Crudup was treated "just like the other public officials," noting his office also denied a pretrial diversion request this week on behalf of the former operator of Lebanon's wastewater treatment facility under indictment for falsifying documents submitted to state environmental officials.
Ironically, Thompson also noted the former detective who led the investigation of Crudup was later indicted on theft charges and required to pay restitution.
"When it comes to violations of the public trust, we have an obligation to take that into consideration," he said.
Attempts to contact Crudup's attorney, Jerry Gonzalez, were unsuccessful Friday.
Though the federal court clerk's office said no immediate hearings are slated in Crudup's civil case, among its allegations are he was singled out for scrutiny regarding his credit card use while the purchases of others were not examined as closely.
But the suit goes on to claim Crudup – who is African American – suffered through a hostile work environment, including being forced to "tolerate ethnic jokes by Mayor Don Fox and open criticism of the NAACP, in particular, criticism of the word 'colored' in the organization name, and saying at time that there should be a NAAWP."
The lawsuit also alleges Fox "e-mailed racist jokes to certain individuals, all the while making the work environment difficult for Mr. Crudup."
The suit also notes Crudup declined to openly campaign for Fox during an election because he at the time headed the local chapter of the NAACP.
Shortly after writing a letter citing his reasons for declining to campaign, according to the suit, Crudup was suspended from his job without pay for allegedly intervening in a dispute between police and black residents on behalf of the NAACP. Crudup later underwent a hearing and was exonerated, the suit notes.
After he was reinstated, the suit states Crudup was moved from his normal office, and employees he had previously supervised were transferred, leaving him essentially with no employees to under him.
According to the suit, during a staff meeting Fox asked Crudup "if he wanted to know why he was being moved."
"When Mr. Crudup said yes, Mayor Fox explained 'You're moving because I want you to move,'" the lawsuit states.
The suit specifically claims Fox violated Crudup's First Amendment rights and was "targeting" the former purchasing agent "by not even investigating other employees possessing city credit cards."
The lawsuit also claims Fox and Henderson conspired to violate Crudup's rights for his refusal to campaign on behalf of the mayor.
Senior Staff Writer Brooks Franklin can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 14 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.