Former Rural Hall mayor Megan Garner claims a member of the council spread false rumors in connection with a new lawsuit. | Crime
Former Rural Hall mayor Megan Garner is suing a council member, accusing her of making false claims that Garner stole money and had an affair with a married sheriff’s deputy of Forsyth County. In the lawsuit, filed last week in Alamance County, Garner says Susan Gordon, who is the town’s acting mayor, made false statements at a meeting of the Rural Hall Historical Society in June 2021 that spread throughout the small town and helped ruin Garner’s professional reputation.
It’s the latest in a complex web of legal disputes that began late last year after an Oct. 21, 2021, meeting in which Garner, three council members and the city’s attorney all abruptly resigned. The resignations came after the three council members – John McDermon, Ricky Plunkett and Jesse Stigall – approved a near $150,000 settlement agreement for Garner, who accepted a city manager job at Graham the next day. Garner never received the money, however, because the amount exceeded the city’s transaction limits.
Still, city officials filed a lawsuit against Garner in November 2021, accusing him and the three council members of violating state law and city protocols during the negotiation and approval of the settlement agreement, also known as severance pay. Then, in December, Randy James, the city’s acting attorney, filed an amended lawsuit that added allegations that Garner violated city ethics rules by having an affair with the former Chief Justice. firefighter Andy Marshall, who reported directly to Garner. Garner has denied those allegations, but Marshall’s ex-wife, Stacy Marshall, has since filed an alienation lawsuit against Garner.
People also read…
Garner previously alleged in a counterclaim that city officials, including current city manager Misty Meadows Gordon and city public works director Jason Hill, engaged in a sexist smear campaign. against her which ultimately forced her to hire a lawyer, negotiate a settlement agreement and leave the job.
But in the latest lawsuit, filed June 10 in Alamance Superior Court, Garner’s attorneys, Valerie Bateman and Julie K. Allison, name only Gordon as a defendant.
The new Alamance County lawsuit alleges Gordon, who voted against the settlement agreement in October, made false claims that Garner embezzled $1.5 million from city coffers and that the legal service was performed in connection with an alleged affair Garner had with a married Forsyth. county sheriff’s deputy. The lawsuit said Gordon made these statements to a group assembled on June 13, 2021 for a meeting of the Rural Hall Historical Society.
“The defendant knew that these statements were false at the time they were made,” the complaint states.
Bateman and Allison allege that Gordon further told the group that Garner, as city manager, “provided shitty spreadsheets to the city council, which was a fabulous way to hide money.”
Gordon “further stated orally at the June 13, 2021 meeting that the plaintiff was served with legal proceedings in connection with an affair with a married Forsyth County Sheriff’s Deputy.” Gordon, Bateman and Allison allege, knew that statement was also untrue.
Garner said these “defendant allegations made by the defendant” spread throughout Rural Hall, according to the complaint.
Bateman and Allison said Gordon should have known that the revenue and expense reports that were provided to Rural Hall Town Council were pulled monthly directly from the town’s accounting software. And the city’s independent auditor “certified to City Council on November 8, 2021 that there were no missing funds.”
The complaint that the media contacted Garner about “missing $1.5 million”, resulting in Garner’s embarrassment and humiliation. The media also ran stories about the alleged missing money that also embarrassed and humiliated Garner, according to the complaint.
State Treasurer Dale Folwell announced last year that he had asked State Auditor Beth Wood to look into rumors about the missing money. Wood’s office neither confirmed nor denied whether there was going to be an investigation, and Wood made no further announcement.
When contacted Tuesday morning, Gordon said she didn’t have much to say and asked her attorney questions.
“I really appreciate your call, but I’ll have to have my lawyer answer all of this for me because I don’t understand anything she’s saying,” Gordon said.
When asked, Gordon did not immediately know the name of his lawyer or the law firm his lawyer worked for. She called back later and said all questions should be directed to James.
James said Tuesday afternoon that the lawsuit was just a repeat of claims she made in her original counter-complaint. The only difference now, he says, is that she’s suing Gordon.
Garner’s attorneys voluntarily dismissed without prejudice most of these claims in its counter-suit. Garner’s attorneys filed an amended counter-complaint and motion to dismiss focusing on the legality of the settlement agreement.
James also said Garner’s attorneys should have filed suit in Forsyth County, not Alamance.
James said many of the statements Garner claims Gordon made were directed at asking why she had not received certain financial information from Garner. Gordon has the right to ask those questions, James said.
James said he had seen no evidence that Gordon made any reference to an alleged affair with a married Forsyth County MP. He said he had subpoenaed people who allegedly recorded Gordon’s statements and that he received a tape in which Gordon made no statement about a case.
“Until I have corroborated evidence, which I haven’t seen, the allegations are denied,” James said.
Garner is seeking at least $25,000 in compensatory damages and an unknown amount of punitive damages, according to the lawsuit.