Former deputy and former Shelby Co. sheriff settled lawsuit for $12.5K

CENTER, TX (KTRE) - Court documents from the U.S. District Court's Marshall Division revealed that former Shelby County deputy Mark McAvoy received $12,500 from the Texas Association of Counties as a result of a settlement he reached with his former boss, Newton Johnson on May 20.

In the lawsuit, McAvoy claimed that Johnson violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights. The former deputy also said the former sheriff defamed him.

East Texas News obtained a copy of the Release of All Claims document Thursday.

The settlement document stated that even though Johnson still denies the allegations, the TAC pushed to resolve the claim "in order to avoid litigation expenses."

In a lawsuit filed in May 2012, Mark McAvoy alleged that Johnson, who was then the Shelby County Sheriff, fired him and later arrested him for animal cruelty in retaliation for McAvoy commenting on Johnson's drunk driving.

According to a mediator's report from the Marshall Division of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, the settlement was reached on May 20.

A jury found McAvoy not guilty of animal neglect in November. He was arrested in July following an investigation into the death of one of his horses.

The lawsuit stated McAvoy began working for the sheriff's office in November 2010, and that he began investigating drug problems in Shelby County. McAvoy claimed he learned of Johnson's daughter's drug problems and was then told by Johnson to "leave the drug dealers alone, that 'they were not my problem.'"

The lawsuit alleged McAvoy began enforcing drunk driving in the county and made four arrests for driving while intoxicated. It was then McAvoy says Johnson told him to stop conducting suspected drunk driving arrests and if he did not, he would be fired.

The lawsuit alleged Johnson called McAvoy on his cell phone in March 2011 and "sounded intoxicated." McAvoy said Johnson gave him directions to arrest someone, but gave him the wrong address. Johnson then met McAvoy in a church parking lot and had the odor of alcohol on his breath, according to the lawsuit.

"The Sheriff started to curse Plaintiff and told him that he was just 'A dumb [expletive] Yankee' and that he hated Plaintiff," according to the lawsuit.

After that, McAvoy alleged Johnson met him in a gas parking lot in Joaquin and almost ran over him, before getting out of the car and staggering over to him and cursing at him again. It was then McAvoy commented on Johnson's intoxicated driving, according to the lawsuit. He was fired two weeks later.

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