Keith Royston and Douglas Walker, Star Press
MUNCIE — A new federal court lawsuit filed by Muncie's former police chief targets the mayor and reveals details of the FBI probe into corruption allegations in city government.
Ex-Muncie Police Chief Steve Stewart's lawsuit against the city of Muncie and Mayor Dennis Tyler, filed late Wednesday in U.S. District Court, alleges Tyler and longtime Democratic Party figure Phil Nichols badgered Stewart to conduct an MPD investigation of a longtime city employee who was believed to be cooperating with the FBI's investigation.
Stewart's lawsuit, filed by Muncie attorney Brian Pierce, alleges that Stewart was subjected to a hostile workplace environment as he was ordered to investigate the employee, unnamed in the lawsuit but actually Gretchen Cheesman, a longtime city employee who, after her firing from her city job in early 2016, offered to talk to Tyler about what she knew about corruption on the part of officials if her termination was changed to retirement and her benefits were restored.
The Star Press contacted Tyler by text message at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, shortly after receiving a copy of Stewart's lawsuit, to ask if he wanted to comment. Tyler did not respond.
Contacted after 9 a.m. Thursday, city human resources director and spokesman Sarah Beach, when asked if Tyler or other officials wanted to comment, told The Star Press, "The city has not yet received a copy of the lawsuit, and we cannot comment on pending litigation."