NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - More than 40 current employees of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office are being sued by 20 former employees who allege extortion, coercion, and wrongfully termination.
According to the lawsuit, an employee is accused of threatening to euthanize a K-9 and blame the death on his handler on social media. The lawsuit says some of the department's top officials are "intoxicated with power."
The sheriff's office broke its silence on social media Friday and fired back against the lawsuit.
The lawsuit includes more than 400 pages of allegations made by 20 former employees of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
"This case is about clearing people's named who have been falsely accused," the plaintiffs' attorney, John McGuire said.
Many of the allegations accuse top ranking officials of filing or signing off on false internal affairs complaints against employees, making it difficult for them to be hired elsewhere.
In one instance, the suits say a plaintiff reported a case of gender discrimination to his superiors, essentially "blowing the whistle on women being discriminated against."
After reporting it, the suits says false complaints were filed against him in retaliation, which eventually lead to his termination.
Clearwater Attorney John McGuire represents all the plaintiffs.
"If someone speaks out against the regime, they are targeted and they are taken out," McGuire said.
In response to the suit the Pasco County Sheriff's Office posted a lengthy statement on its Facebook page.
One of the allegations involve a K-9 dog and his handler Cliff Baltzer who says a Sergeant threatened to euthanize the dog and blame the death on him on social media after Baltzer challenged a complaint filed against him.
To prevent the dog from being euthanized, the suits says Baltzer bought the dog from the sheriff's office for $8,500.
"Some are suicidal. Some are fighting for their lives. Some are in fear for their lives. Some fled the state. They are unemployed many of them can't get a job because of these false allegations against them," McGuire said.