WENATCHEE — A former Grant County deputy prosecutor sued Grant County this week, saying he was wrongfully fired for refusing to work on cases that were a clear conflict of interest.
Albert Lin also alleges that Prosecutor D. Angus Lee violated the state Whistleblower’s Act and county policies, which prohibit state or county employers from firing their employees in retaliation for reporting employer misconduct.
And, it claims, Lee used his office to win reelection as prosecutor.
Lee and Lin both ran for Grant County Prosecutor in 2009 and 2010. After winning the second election, Lee did not reappoint Lin.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Chelan County Superior Court, comes as the Washington State Bar Association works to set a hearing date for a grievance against Lee that resulted in formal charges by the Bar alleging he violated conflict rules. The lawsuit covers many of the same issues raised in the Bar Association complaint.
“My focus has been and will continue to be the successful prosecution of the most serious criminals and the continued effective management of the prosecutor’s office,” Lee said in an email responding to the lawsuit. “I will not allow this to distract me or this office from the job of prosecuting criminals and seeking justice for the victims of crime.”
The lawsuit also claims that Grant County’s whistleblower policy is inadequate because it provides only the possibility of reinstatement, with or without back pay, and does not allow for compensatory damages.
Lin claims he was disciplined repeatedly for refusing to take cases that were a conflict of interest, including denying Lin his annual leave shortly before the election, hampering Lin’s chances of winning. Lee later revised the discipline to allow Lin leave for campaign purposes only.
He also alleges that Lee assigned him 139 cases, which was 32 more than the deputy prosecutor with the next highest caseload, impacting the time he had to devote to his campaign.
Lin claims these actions caused him severe emotional distress, lost sleep and anxiety. He is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.
K.C. Mehaffey: 997-2512