BEAUMONT - Jefferson County has been sued by a former employee claiming he was fired for reporting repeated theft being committed by another employee.

Wendell Petry, who claims Sheriff Mitch Woods personally fired him for reporting the theft, filed his suit against the county on Dec. 16 in Jefferson County District Court.

According to the lawsuit, Petry began working for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department in 2008. He was fired on Dec. 16, 2013.

Among other duties, Petry was responsible for the daily maintenance of the department’s fuel logs. Shortly after starting, Petry heard rumors that Jeff Gamble, another county employee, was stealing gas from the department, which Petry reported.

In 2011, Petry allegedly witnessed Gamble stealing tools, which he reported. And on Oct. 16, 2013, he allegedly saw Gamble taking gas without authorization, which he reported.

On Dec. 16, 2013, Petry met with several department heads, including Woods. Woods told Petry that his allegations had been investigated and found to be without merit.

Woods allegedly told Petry that he would have preferred if he had gone to him instead of the Human Resources Department.

Shockingly, Woods then accused Petry of the theft and told him he was terminated, the suit states.

Petry is alleging constitutional rights violations and is seeking declaratory judgment.

Missouri City attorney Larry Watts represents him.

Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. E-197946

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