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HAMILTON - Darby's deputy marshal has filed suit against Ravalli County and the sheriff's department claiming he was wrongly fired from the department in 2002.

Andy Kollmer previously served as administrator of the Ravalli County Detention Center from July 2000 to May 2002, when he was fired by then-Sheriff Perry Johnson.

The suit, filed by Missoula attorney Rusty Murphy, claims Kollmer was fired because he became a candidate for Ravalli County sheriff.

"Said discharge was wrongful because it was without just cause and it was in retaliation for (Kollmer's) exercise of his civil rights, namely the submission of his declaration of nomination for the office of county sheriff of Ravalli County, which declaration was filed on March 7, 2002," Murphy wrote.

The suit seeks financial damages to be determined at trial.

Kollmer's candidacy for sheriff ended in defeat. Chris Hoffman, a Hamilton police officer who ran as a Republican, beat Kollmer, a Democrat, by more than a 2-to-1 margin.

At the time of his dismissal, Kollmer claimed he was fired because he filed for office.

"I have a feeling it was politically motivated," Kollmer told the Ravalli Republic at the time. "I often wonder if I could go back and not file for office would I still be working at the detention center. Who can say?"

However, the sheriff had served Kollmer with a 10-page letter addressing perceived problems with Kollmer's job performance. Those allegations included complaints that Kollmer had made a racial slur against an inmate, a charge he denied, and claims that he had financial dealings with others in the sheriff's department, which was prohibited.

Deputy Ravalli County Attorney James McCubbin said Monday he'd not yet seen the suit and couldn't comment.

Reporter Michael Moore can be reached at 370-3330 or at mmoore@missoulian.com

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