Public safety — Thomas Hoy alleges he was forced to resign from position under false pretenses

By Nicole Montesano, McMinnville News Register, for the Northwest News Exchange

A former deputy is suing the Yamhill County and sheriff’s office, alleging he was forced to resign under false pretenses and defamed in the process.

In the suit, former deputy Thomas Hoy also names Sheriff Jack Crabtree, former Sgt. Steve Warden, county Human Resources Manager Pat Anderson and former County Counsel Rick Sanai.

The lawsuit alleges wrongful retention of records, breach of contract, defamation and intentional interference with actual and prospective employment. As a result of the county’s actions, it alleges, Hoy has been unable to find work in the field.

The county specifically denies each element of the allegations and denies any wrongdoing.

Hoy was hired in 2008 and assigned to Warden.

The lawsuit alleges that “upon information and belief, Warden’s first draft of plaintiff’s performance appraisal was rejected by Crabtree with instructions to rewrite the evaluation … due to Warden’s demonstration of an unfounded animus towards plaintiff.” It says the revised version of Warden’s performance appraisal, dated May 17, 2009, “contained false statements regarding plaintiff, which attacked plaintiff’s veracity.”

When Hoy objected, the lawsuit says, “he was informed that if at the end of one year there were no similar complaints about his performance, Warden’s performance appraisal would be shredded.” He was then assigned a new supervisor, who gave him a positive review.

At the end of the period, the suit alleges, “Warden’s negative evaluation was ceremoniously and physically handed to plaintiff ‘to do with as he pleased,’ with the express guarantee that Warden’s evaluation had been removed from plaintiff’s personnel records.” But when an attorney for an alleged drunk driver subpoenaed Hoy’s records in January 2011, it alleges, the negative review was included.

The following June, the lawsuit states, Hoy stopped in, while off duty, to check on a search warrant he had requested the previous day. He was read his Miranda rights, taken to an investigation room and interrogated about alleged false swearing in the affidavit he provided to support the warrant, it says.

According to the suit, Hoy was given a choice of tendering his immediate resignation or facing an internal YCSO investigation, a state DPSST investigation and potentially criminal prosecution for false swearing.

It goes on to say, “Under the duress from the YSCO, on June 1, 2011, plaintiff was forced to resign from his position as a deputy sheriff. Plaintiff’s resignation was expressly conditioned upon avoidance of both internal investigation by YCSO and an external investigation by DPSST, and leaving YCSO with a glowing recommendation.”

Later, the suit says, Hoy tried to revoke his resignation, “due to the fact that during the investigation and the days following it, Warden made numerous erroneous and false representations regarding the circumstances surrounding the search warrant, which significantly impacted the decision and ultimatum given to plaintiff.” It says the county not only refused, but also submitted a notice to DPSST that Hoy had resigned while under suspicion for false swearing, causing the state agency to open its own investigation.

More than three months later, the lawsuit alleges, Capt. Ken Summers sent an e-mail to the DPSST investigator saying, “Information we have received since the resignation leads Sheriff Crabtree and I to doubt that the investigation would have led to findings of intentional untruthfulness… It is our position that errors were made on the part of our supervisors that compounded the matter.”

According to the lawsuit, word of suspicions about Hoy’s veracity had spread among defense attorneys, and, as a result, his personnel records had been subpoenaed in at least three subsequent criminal cases.

The county denies all of Hoy’s claims, including one indicating he “continued to excel at YCSO, receiving additional accolades, official commendations and community support, along with performance appraisals in which plaintiff primarily met or exceeded expectations,” between the 2009 and 2011 incidents.

The office denies ever giving him an ultimatum to either resign or face investigation. In fact, it denies he resigned under duress at all.

It does acknowledge the e-mail Summers sent to the DPSST, which included a statement indicating the department had “no other prior disciplinary measures and/or corrective counseling actions for Mr. Hoy related to issues of untruthfulness, affidavit issues or the absence of such.”

Trial in the case is listed on the court docket for Dec. 15, so resolution appears to be at least a year away.

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