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A Beaver Dam man alleges in a lawsuit that the federal government and Dodge County Sheriff’s Office conspired to illegally detain him and that Sheriff Dale Schmidt defamed him.

In the suit filed March 8 in U.S. Federal Court, Northern District of Illinois, Selepri Amachree said he was illegally detained in the Dodge County Jail for more than six months by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

According to the suit, Amachree — an African immigrant who has had permanent legal resident status in the United States for 50 years — was taken into custody on Feb. 27, 2017, at the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office in Juneau. A federal judge ordered Amachree to be released from jail in September 2017.

The suit seeks $5 million in damages from the defendants, including the acting U.S. Attorney General, Secretary of Homeland Security, acting director of ICE, Board of Immigration Appeals, Dodge County, Schmidt and named and unnamed ICE officers. It also seeks unspecified punitive damages against Schmidt and ICE Officer Brent Kriehn.

The damages against Schmidt are being sought for emails he sent that the suit alleges are defamatory.

Both Schmidt and Dodge County Corporation Counsel Kimberly Nass said Friday they were not aware of the lawsuit. Nass said she could not comment on the suit as a result.

The detention relates to an order to deport Amachree issued Nov. 7, 2002, that was appealed. The order was part of a drug conviction, but federal courts eventually determined that such convictions were not grounds for deportation and Amachree’s case was sent by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals on Feb. 7, 2007. For some reason, the BIA did not act on the matter for 10 years, until Amachree had been in custody at the Dodge County Jail for six months.

When it did act, the deportation order was immediately vacated and Amachree was freed.

The day Amachree was taken into custody, he was at the sheriff’s office to meet with Schmidt regarding a background check that was conducted because Amachree had been meeting with clients at the Dodge County Jail. Amachree operates XTreme Intervention, a business that enrolls drug-addicted people into treatment programs, typically Teen Challenge programs that are out of state, and transports them to the program.

Schmidt said in a July 25, 2018, email to the Daily Citizen, that the background investigation revealed that ICE “had business with Mr. Amachree.”

The lawsuit contends that Amachree’s arrest was the result of a “conspiracy” between the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office and ICE’s Chicago office. It cites email exchanges in the days before his arrest between Dodge County Sheriff’s Office staff and ICE.

In those emails dated Feb. 15, 2018, Deputy Jail Administrator Thomas Polsin contacted Brent Kriehn of the Milwaukee ICE office to ask if he knows the status of Selepri Amachree “in regards to deportation.” Kriehn responds that “as long as everything checks out,” an officer will arrest Amachree and book him into the Dodge County Jail. Polsin responds “That will work for me. We can set up a visit with Amachree and you can arrest him then.”

Amachree was arrested 12 days later at the sheriff’s office.

The day that arrest took place, Schmidt sent an email to 30 people including local police chiefs, Dodge County Circuit Court judges, the Dodge County District Attorney, Dodge County Administrator and others. That email alleged that Amachree was taking advantage of people financially and behaved inappropriately with female clients but also stated “I have no evidence at this time to proceed with a criminal investigation.”

In the lawsuit, Amachree denies the allegations about inappropriate behavior and financial misconduct and characterizes parts of the background investigation as being based on “hearsay” and false information. The suit also states that the false allegations Schmidt made in the email on Feb. 27, 2018, have damaged his reputation and business.

Amachree has continued to live in Beaver Dam and operate XTreme Intervention since his release last year.

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