LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A former captain and assistant chief of the Bardstown Police Department has filed a lawsuit against mayor of Bardstown, alleging that he was wrongfully demoted and terminated over a "personal vendetta."
On May 31, Mayor John Royalty fired Thomas R. Roby, who was then a captain/assistant chief of Bardstown Police.
The reason for the termination, according to a human resources report, was the allegation that Roby was caught shredding internal documents, including Drug Taskforce case files, Internal Affairs files on former and active police officers, and other documents belonging to the City of Bardstown.
At the time, Roby's attorney, Keith Sparks, blasted the allegations, calling them "heinous."
"The allegations are completely taken out of context," said Sparks, after the firing.
Sparks claimed his client was simply clearing out his desk, which was OK'd by the chief.
"He placed old duplicate copies, his own personal files, some unopened files into the shredding box," Sparks said.
On July 21, Roby filed a lawsuit against the City of Bardstown, Mayor Royalty, and Larry Green, Bardstown's human resource director. Among other things, the lawsuit alleges that both Roby's demotion and termination were conducted unlawfully.
According to the lawsuit, Roby was Royalty's supervisor when both men served with the Bardstown Police Department. The suit alleges that Roby, "oversaw a number of disciplinary actions and / or reprimands against Royalty," and that Royalty was ultimately fired from the police department after claims that he broke with the city's protocol governing the use of deadly force.
The lawsuit states that at the time, Roby "openly supported the decision that Royalty was not justified in his use of force, and was not fit for the Department," and that this stance, "angered and troubled Royalty."
Several years later, Roby was promoted to captain and made assistant chief of police, and Royalty was elected mayor of Bardstown.
The suit states that in late March / early April of this year, Royalty "unilaterally" demoted Roby to the position of patrolman -- a move which represented a significant reduction in rank and pay grade. According to the lawsuit, Roby made the move while then Bardstown Police Chief Rick McCubbin was off work, recovering from a medical procedure.
"At the April 12, 2016 meeting of the City Council, Royalty refused to allow Council members to ask questions about the demotion or other changes to the Department, and act that he called a 'restructuring' of the Department, telling Councilwoman Kecia Copeland that she was out-of-order when she inquired," the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, Roby was never told why he was demoted, and was not given any opportunity to defend himself against the allegations, despite the fact that Royalty gave interviews with the media indicating that the demotion was related to "misconduct" that was "confidential and based on corruption within the department."
"Upon information and belief, part of Royalty's motivation in demoting [Roby] was the personal vendetta that existed against [Roby] from Royalty's time as [Roby's] subordinate at the Department," the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit goes on to accuse Mayor Royalty of intentionally misleading the public and wasting public funds to advance his own "personal agenda." it says Royalty's "betrayal of respect" toward then Chief McCubbin led to McCubbin's resignation.
Roby elected to resign as well.
According to the lawsuit, Roby began cleaning out his desk on June 30, his last day -- the day he is accused of wrongfully shredding documents.
The lawsuit admits that documents were shredded, but defends the action, arguing that Roby had been given implicit permission to do so by Commander Ronald Eckart, who had been his supervisor with the Greater Hardin County Drug Narcotic Task Force, which provides drug and narcotics investigations to Nelson County.
"For their use and convenience, Commander Eckart allowed officers under his command to make copies of the original Task Force case file, while he preserved the original in the Task Force headquarters in Hardin County," the lawsuit explains. "Commander Eckart advised those under his command to destroy the copies after the case was concluded or when they left their department."
The lawsuit says Roby "properly set copies of the Task Force files in bins designated for shredding, as he was supposed to do per Task Force protocol" -- and that Roby's accusers "would have known" that the documents should have been shredded.
As for the shredding or attempted shredding of documents related to internal investigations, the lawsuit says Roby discussed with Chief McCubbin which documents needed to be destroyed, and that he was only cleaning out his office, "as would anyone being respectful to the Department or any employer they were leaving."
The following day, according to the lawsuit, Green released a false statement accusing Roby of "tampering with public records," an action that "greatly hindered the future operations of the City's Police Department."
The lawsuit alleges that Roby was never given an opportunity to defend himself against the allegations and no one bothered to interview McCubbin or Eckart about the claims.
As a result, according to the lawsuit, Roby was publicly libeled and slandered -- and is entitled to damages, including punitive damages, as well as a jury trial.
WDRB'S contacted Royalty's office, but was told that the mayor would not comment on the pending lawsuit. WDRB News also reached out to Green, who also declined to comment.
Below is a copy of the lawsuit:
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