KETCHUM, Idaho — A former chief deputy coroner in southern Idaho is suing Blaine County, claiming he was fired in retaliation for whistleblowing.

In the lawsuit filed last week, Landon Neet claimed he was placed on administrative leave in June and then fired in September after telling government officials that Blaine County Coroner Russell Mikel was using him for work at his private business at the taxpayers’ expense, the Idaho Mountain Express reported .

Neet, who began working for the coroner’s officer in May, was instructed by Mikel to perform work that benefited the funeral home owned by Mikel and that was outside his job description, according to the suit. The tasks included doing yard work outside the facility, preparing bodies for cremation and creating memorial videos and slideshows.

Mikel said he had not seen the lawsuit and did not have a comment for the newspaper on Tuesday.

County Commissioner Larry Schoen said the coroner’s office has been located in Mikel’s funeral home for decades because the county lacks mortuary facilities elsewhere. The decision to end the chief deputy coroner position came out of the budgeting process for this fiscal year, and Neet is misconstruing that process as retaliation, he said.

Schoen said he met with Neet and Mikel, individually and together, on multiple occasions, and said the two did not get along.


Information from: Idaho Mountain Express, http://www.mtexpress.com