Forsyth County commissioners approved Monday paying a former sheriff’s deputy and Iraq War veteran $96,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging that Sheriff Bill Schatzman broke federal law by firing him less than a year after he returned from serving in Iraq.
As part of the settlement, Schatzman and Forsyth County officials do not admit any wrongdoing in the termination of former Sgt. Michael T. Russell. The U.S. Department of Justice filed the lawsuit June 7 in U.S. District Court on behalf of Russell. The lawsuit alleged that Schatzman fired Russell in November 2010 after Russell bought $100 tickets in a motorcycle raffle organized by Dave Griffith, who was running against Schatzman for sheriff. Russell said he just wanted to win the motorcycle and was never told buying the tickets would get him fired.
Journal reporter Wesley Young contributed to this report.