BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A sergeant with the NC Highway Patrol and his wife have filed a civil rights lawsuit against Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram. The couple claims Sheriff Ingram deprived the couple of their right to free speech and inflicted emotional distress.
"The Nances have had to live with a daily fear that their livelihoods could be damaged by the actions of Defendant Ingram and the Brunswick County Sheriff's Department," according to the lawsuit filed on Wednesday by Charles and Andrea Nance.
Within that lawsuit, the couple claims the sheriff had been harassing and intimidating them for their support of Tim "Salt" Daniels. Daniels ran against Sheriff Ingram during the 2010 Republican Primary.
The suit claims once Ingram found out the Nances made a financial contribution to Daniel's campaign, the Sheriff launched an investigation into Carolina Shores Healthcare.
State records show an investigation was launched by the NC Nursing Board after they were made aware of possible issues with Carolina Shores Healthcare. Andrea Nance owns and operates the business. The initial complaint indicated she had given a patient "enough methadone to kill a large elephant."
The records do not indicate who filed the initial complaint, though the lawsuit alleges Sheriff Ingram was behind it. The Nances cite a phone call made to Sheriff Ingram about the investigation into Andrea's practice.
"Defendant Ingram told Mr. Nance that Mrs. Nance's prescriptions have contributed to more than sixty deaths in Brunswick County. Defendant Ingram did not reveal the basis for this assertion," according to the lawsuit.
After the investigation the board recommended that Mrs. Nance's license be suspended for 1 year, which was later reduced to a deferred suspension with conditions.
The Nances also claim in the lawsuit that Ingram pressured the Highway Patrol to charge Charles Nance after an accident involving his son. The lawsuit says in December 2012, Mr. Nance allowed his unlicensed, 15-year-old son to drive his car which eventually crashed into a tree.
The lawsuit says the Highway Patrol investigated the accident and charged Nance with allowing an unlicensed driver behind the wheel. Those charges were later dropped. However, the Nances claim Sheriff Ingram pushed the Highway Patrol into pressing those charges.
"Mr. Bell confirmed that Mr. Pope had been pressured by Defendant Ingram to charge Mr. Nance," according to the lawsuit.
First Sergeant T.W. Pope confirmed Thursday that he did call Nance and say he would be charging the Highway Patrol Sergeant.
The lawuit also claims Ingram tried to get Nance transferred out of Brunswick County.
"Defendant Ingram called the North Carolina Highway Patrol office every day for the period of one week attempting to get Mr. Nance transferred out Brunswick County, claiming that Brunswick County was 'his' property," according to the lawsuit.
A spokesperson with the Brunswick County Sheriffs would only say they do not discuss pending litigation.
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