- Associated Press - Thursday, March 3, 2016

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - A judge has allowed a former Gallatin County sheriff’s deputy to be reinstated after finding that Sheriff Brian Gootking wrongfully fired him in 2014.

Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports (http://bit.ly/1powe93 ) the judge ruled Wednesday that David Johnston can be reinstated and awarded damages for lost wages, which Johnston’s attorney says is at least $126,000.

Johnston was fired in after sheriff’s office administrators say he refused to immediately turn over a tape recorder that had audio of an interaction between Johnston and his ex-girlfriend, Deputy Kelly Munter. Johnston claims Munter had berated him while they responded to a call together.

Johnston sought advice from an attorney and made a copy of the audio before eventually returning the recorder.

The judge says Johnston’s “short delay” in returning the device didn’t constitute his firing.

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Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com

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