Fmr. Wood County sheriff settles for $42,000 less than initial suit against county

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (WSAW) -- The Wood County Board of Supervisors settled Tuesday in the lawsuit brought by the former sheriff Tom Reichert.

Board chair, Lance Pliml told 7 Investigates the board voted by a resolution accepting the settlement offer from Reichert, totaling $3,000.

Reichert initially filed a lawsuit that claimed he was entitled to nearly $45,000 from 993.2 hours of sick time and 10.5 hours of comp time from his role as a deputy sheriff before he was appointed sheriff by Gov. Jim Doyle in 2005 and elected sheriff in 2006.

Pliml said while it was clear the former sheriff was not entitled to the same benefits that non-elected department heads are, the board agreed there was a nuisance value and cost associated with going through with a trial.

The resolution states, "...the county has a strong case but there are no guarantees and payment of $3,000.00 may/would conclude the case and Reichert would be responsible for his own legal fees and costs and the county would not incur further costs; the settlement would not create any binding precedents for the county and sometimes paying nuisance value to make a case go away is the best approach."

Reichert initially filed a claim for benefits with the county in August, 2018, but the county denied it in October. The denial stated, “any prior sick, vacation, or other compensatory time off balances an elected official may have had prior to becoming elected or appointed are not tracked by Wood County.”

State law does not allot specific vacation or sick time for sheriffs. It also does not dictate what happens to previous county benefits.

Reichert retired January, 2019.