The former County Assessor who was terminated by the Board of Supervisors last month has filed a civil complaint against two of the county's top officials.
Monday, Todd Kaufman filed a complaint naming County Administrator Tim Hemstreet, County Attorney John R. Roberts, Supervising Appraiser John Nelson and the investigator who worked for the county leading to Kaufman's firing. The complaint includes 10 counts and charges of defamation, tortious interference, gross negligence and conspiracy.
He is seeking a total of $10 million in damages, and has requested a jury trial.
"Todd’s overall goal is to hold several county officials responsible for ultimately the board’s decision to terminate Todd’s employment as the assessor," Kaufman's attorney Peter Cohen said today, noting Kaufman believes the matter was handled inappropriately.
The board voted to terminate Kaufman after an extended closed session with Roberts June 5. Kaufman was placed on paid administrative leave in April, pending the outcome of an investigation.
In terminating him, the county is required to pay Kaufman severance as laid out in his employment contract, dated Nov. 6, 2007. Kaufman was hired as the county’s assessor in 2005. Before his work in Loudoun, he served as the deputy director and supervisor for the commercial division in the City of Richmond’s assessor’s office. He also previously worked as a law enforcement officer.
The board appointed James L. White as the county's interim real estate appraiser for the county.
This is a developing story. More will be reported as it becomes available.
Update July 7: A letter penned anonymously by Nelson and directed to Hemstreet and Russ Consaul of the county Department of Human Resources was apparently the catalyst for the executive session that led to Kaufman's suspension and ultimately to his dismissal.
In the letter, written March 27, Nelson describes the alleged "hostile work environment" created by Kaufman's leadership. Nelson names six area of concern regarding Kaufman's performance: potentially criminal activity; violation of the county's policies on vehicle usage; insubordination; creating a hostile work environment based on discriminatory practices involving age, ethnicity and religious beliefs; sexual harassment; and threats of physical violence.
The letter takes each topic in turn, with Nelson providing anecdotal illustrations of Kaufman's behavior.
In his complaint filed this week, Kaufman refutes all of Nelson's accusations, and characterizes him as a "disgruntled employee" involved in a rhetorical "drive by shooting" of his supervisor. The complaint states Kaufman "counseled [Nelson] on performance and conduct issues related to his behavior in the workplace," including reporting errors and poor job performance.
Kaufman's complaint states after Nelson was denied some requested paid time off, he penned the letter "in retaliation for Kaufman's monitoring and discipline of performance issues." The letter was dated three weeks prior to Kaufman's being placed on administrative leave.
Kaufman's complaint states he was never approached by Hemstreet or other county officials to discuss the accusations in Nelson's letter, and accuses Hemstreet and Roberts of using the letter to form "a conspiracy to defame [Kaufman] and tortiously interfere and end his employment."
Check back for updates as more information on this story becomes available.