Federal lawsuit filed by Beaver Dam man against Dodge County transferred to Wisconsin
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Federal lawsuit filed by Beaver Dam man against Dodge County transferred to Wisconsin

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A $5 million lawsuit filed against the federal government and the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office has been transferred to the U.S. Federal Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin from an Illinois court.

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, Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt and ICE officers. It also seeks unspecified punitive damages against Schmidt.

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

Northern District of Illinois Judge Mary Rowland ruled on a motion to dismiss the case Tuesday. The motion brought by the defendants claims that the case was filed in the wrong venue and Rowland agreed.

In her ruling, Rowland stated that all of the actions in the case occurred in Wisconsin and Amachree lives in Wisconsin. Rowland could have dismissed the case outright, but chose to transfer the case to the Eastern District of Wisconsin citing her “broad discretion to order a transfer of a case” in the interest of justice.

No court dates have been set in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

Amachree’s detention in 2017 relates to an order to deport him 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.

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.

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.

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