'County really did me dirty'

A former Jackson County animal control officer is suing the county and his former boss for more than half a million dollars, saying he is a victim of wrongful termination and sexual harassment.

"The county really did me dirty," said Andy Ray Lane.

Lane had worked for Jackson County Animal Care and Control for more than two decades before he was fired on Sept. 11, 2009, after being arrested for allegedly using his position to steal livestock.

The charges were later dropped.

Now Lane says he has lost both his homes, is unemployable and will seek $381,000 in back and future wages, plus $100,000 for wrongful discharge, from the county.

"Who wants to hire a 55-year-old dogcatcher who's crippled and fat?" Lane said. "The county even got my unemployment stopped. They said I was a problem employee."

Lane is also suing Colleen Macuk, county shelter director, for $100,000, saying his former boss has caused him extreme emotional distress.

Lane alleges Macuk and he maintained an "off-duty intimate relationship" in the 1980s that eventually cooled to "occasional hugging and kissing" after Lane began a relationship with another woman — and after Macuk became his supervisor in 1997.

"I picked up another girlfriend, and that made Colleen mad," Lane alleged. "She started disciplining me and making me look bad."

Lane filed a sexual harassment claim against Macuk in 2007. Court records show Lane's harassment claim was ultimately disallowed on Oct. 5, 2007, because there was "not conclusive evidence" of Lane's allegations.

When contacted by the Mail Tribune, Macuk stated she cannot comment on Lane's allegations due to the ongoing litigation. Newberg, Ore., attorney Matthew Denley is representing both Jackson County and Macuk. Denley filed a response denying Lane's allegations earlier this month. He refused further comment.

Macuk's termination letter to Lane says he failed to keep proper logs, had unexcused absences, failed to disclose that he owned a dog-grooming business and continued to disobey policies. Lane was also "disrespectful and intimidating" in his interactions with Macuk, she wrote.

"You also took steps towards me and spoke to me in a raised tone of voice of voice," Macuk wrote.

Lane was arrested in July 2009 for allegedly using his position to force a Wimer man to give him two horses and fencing in April of that year.

Lane said he was asked by a concerned neighbor last spring to perform a welfare check on the horses. Rather than cite the owner $600 per horse for improper care of livestock, Lane said he offered to take the horses, and the man agreed.

But complaints were filed by the horses' former owner. And Jackson County Detective Sgt. Colin Fagan called Lane in for questioning. Lane said he was stunned to be arrested after declining to answer questions without an attorney present.

"After what I went through at the Sheriff's office, I have zero respect for them. They were cold and cruel to me. They led me out of there in handcuffs," Lane said.

Arraigned in Jackson County Circuit Court after spending a night in jail on $34,000 bail, Lane was charged with two counts of theft by extortion, two counts of first-degree theft, two counts of coercion and one count of official misconduct.

Fagan said at the time that the Sheriff's department received dozens of calls after Lane's arrest appeared in the media. Several were from people citing similar complaints, Fagan said.

Lane said Macuk used the incident to fire him, and he alleged that she gave misleading and false information to Sheriff's deputies investigating the case.

"She kept riding my case on everything," Lane said. "She made up some of the stuff. I know she was fully aware I was being arrested that day."

Months of investigation failed to turn up a solid criminal case against Lane, said District Attorney Mark Huddleston. All seven charges were dismissed in August 2009.

Prosecutors said charges might be reinstated against Lane if more evidence comes to light.

Lane said he is relieved to be out from under the threat of criminal charges. But he added he was determined to have his day in court — civil court.

"They sure took a thrashing on my life," Lane said. "If I think about it too much, it brings me to tears."

Lee Werdell, Lane's attorney, said he will begin taking depositions in February. A trial date has been set for September.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.

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