Lawsuit alleges misconduct by deputy and private investigator

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CLAY COUNTY, Mo. -- A federal lawsuit filed by an attorney representing two metro women claims illegal activity by a sheriff's deputy and a private investigator.

If you believe one side, there was intimidation and misuse of power. The other side claims the plaintiffs are being manipulated as part of political payback

"Matt Hunter and Jim Murray have been using Matt Hunter's authority as a Clay County Deputy to perform private investigations," said the plaintiff’s attorney, Chad Gardner.

That is the claim behind a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of Lauren Mayberry and Linda Jepson. The suit, according to Gardner, alleges that Clay County Sheriff's Deputy Matt Hunter used his position to coerce and intimidate people while working for private investigator Jim Murray. He also says Hunter and Murray led people to believe the private investigator was also a deputy.

"That's totally untrue," said Murray.

Murray disputes the lawsuit calling it, “Clay County politics at its worst.”

"It's all about political enemies," he said.

Murray says it was those political enemies who hooked the women up as plaintiffs in this case. Both, at one time, were subjects of Murray's investigations.

"Whether or not it was political doesn't, has nothing to do with whether or not what they did was illegal and contrary to the law,” Gardner said.

Gardner says his clients’ privacy and security has been violated. He says the two women, Mayberry and Jepson have never met each other, but would not say how they came to be plaintiffs in this case.

"Revealing those sources would identify other sources, and those things would come out in litigation. That's not your story. The story is about the violation of law, not how I obtained this information," Garnder said.

Gardner, a former Kansas City, Missouri police officer, says this lawsuit is the last resort after repeated warnings to the Clay County Sheriff's Department, he says, were ignored and the behavior allowed to continue.

Gardner says his sources and correspondence will be revealed if the lawsuit moves forward into court. Calls to the Clay County Sheriff's Department for comment have not been returned. The women are suing for 5 million dollars.

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