$10 million lawsuit filed against Montgomery County sheriff’s office and sheriff

A former investigator with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office has filed a multi-million dollar civil suit against the department and Sheriff Tommy Whitt saying he was wrongfully terminated earlier this year. In court documents, former Capt. Brad Roop said he was terminated after bringing to light wrongful practices involving the department’s street crimes unit. Roop had been employed with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office for over 14 years, including most recently as captain of the department’s criminal investigation unit.

The suit cites the recent arrest of Allen W. Odum, an individual who had worked with the sheriff’s department as a confidential informant. Odum has been charged with multiple charges of fraud and filing false police reports. Montgomery County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt said Odum brought investigators fake drugs after making alleged purchases of illegal substances from several drug dealers.

Roop’s civil suit, which was filed Friday in Montgomery County Circuit Court, seeks $2.5 million for compensatory damages and $7.5 million for punitive damages. Spokesperson Ruth Richey said the county had no comment on the matter.

The lawsuit says Roop was terminated in August after being suspended from active duty for eight and half weeks. The suit says that during that time an investigation regarding Roop’s behavior was conducted by the Blacksburg Police Department and that counsel on behalf of Capt. Roop was denied requests to see results of the investigation which should have been made
available under the Freedom of Information Act.

In the civil suit, Roop’s attorney, Randall Eads of Abingdon, cited numerous certifications and an exemplary record of his client while employed at the sheriff’s department. Eads said Roop’s personnel file showed no reprimands or reports of any wrongful conduct.

Roop claims that he brought the issue of drugs coming back from a state crime lab as no controlled substance several times to Sheriff Whitt. Roop said that Whitt told him to look into the matter further and report back to him. The former investigator said he discovered that 24 of 31 buys from 20 separate dealers were found to be no controlled substance.

The suit says these included buys from at least three confidential informants that had been used to acquire illegal drugs and that over $3,000 was given to those individuals to use for buys.

The suit says Odum’s indictment pertaining to his alleged involvement in the fraud of buying fake drugs confirmed Roop’s assessment regarding the no controlled substance drug purchases.

Roop’s suit claims that in one incident readily identifiable Tylenol tablets were submitted to the state crime lab instead of Lortab tablets (a prescription drug) that the informant told investigators he purchased.

The suit also says that Montgomery County Child Protective Services had notified Roop that the street crimes unit was failing to assist their office in a timely manner in a situation involving children in danger at locations where methamphetamine was allegedly

Roop also charges that the sheriff’s office seized his personal cellular telephone without permission or a search warrant and erased all of his personal information from the phone.

In addition to the monetary amount, the suit also seeks a letter from Sheriff Whitt admitting to wrongful termination.

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