- Associated Press - Thursday, October 20, 2016

WATFORD CITY, N.D. (AP) - The McKenzie County sheriff is asking a judge to stop an effort by county commissioners to remove him from office.

Commissioners want the governor to remove Schwartzenberger from office because of what they say is a workplace culture of bullying and retaliation. They’ve also voted to place Lt. Michael Schmitzon on unpaid administrative leave with the possibility of termination.

Sheriff Gary Schwartzenberger’s court filing also asked for a judge’s order to retract that vote. Schwartzenberger said Schmitz continues to work.

Schwartzenberger argued that county leaders overstepped their authority by making unlawful personnel decisions and arranging an internal investigation into his office without consulting him.

The investigation took place after a sheriff’s office employee went to the county human resource manager with a workplace complaint in May.

A special meeting to discuss disciplinary action against Schmitz and the petition for the Schwartzenberger’s removal is scheduled for Monday.

He declined the Williston Herald’s (https://bit.ly/2eoI0fY ) request for comment Tuesday.

However, previously Schwartzenberger said he believed the action toward him to be retaliation.

Both Schwartzenberger and Schmitz face criminal court proceedings resulting from investigations by the Bureau of Criminal Investigations.

Last year, Schwartzenberger was charged with misapplication of entrusted property for allegedly using his department’s credit card without permission on a trip to a sheriff’s conference. While he has pleaded guilty there is still no trial date set.

Schmitz faces charges of giving false information to law enforcement. State investigators claim that he lied about prescription pill use and his role in a case involving a divorce and domestic violence. A trial has been scheduled for Nov. 15.

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Information from: Williston Herald, https://www.willistonherald.com

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