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Lawsuit claims Genesee Co. sheriff used position for personal gain

Genesee County website
Genesee County Sheriff Robert J. Pickell

Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell was sued this week under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO.  The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in U.S District Court in Detroit. 

The complaint alleges Pickell demanded money for himself and his re-election campaign committee in exchange for deputizing agents to act as process servers. 

The suit claims the pattern of extortion went on for ten years. 

"If he thought that being deputized was worth money and they should compensate somebody," said Scott Batey, attorney for some of the deputized agents. "Then it should be made payable to the county and should go in the county's bank account, not Sheriff Pickell's bank account."

Batey said Pickell also violated his clients' First Amendment right to freedom of political association.

"My clients didn't support the sheriff in the primary in August, and as a result of them not supporting him, he fired them," said Batey.

The lawsuit is a civil case for damages - not a criminal action.

Pickell did not reply to requests for comment.