In a federal courtroom Thursday in Chicago, an initial status hearing was held for a civil case brought by a Beaver Dam man who said he was held illegally in the Dodge County Jail for six months. The man is seeking $5 million in damages from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security and Dodge County.
Selepri Amachree said he was illegally held in jail following his arrest by Immigration agents on Feb. 27, 2017. He was released on Sept. 8, 2017.
The civil complaint alleges Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt worked with Immigration agents to detain Amachree, who was born in Liberia, but came to the U.S. when he was 3 years old.
Amachree, who is a legal resident who has not applied for citizenship, had deportation ordered following a drug arrest nearly 20 years ago. However, that order was stayed by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The stay was apparently in effect at the time of his 2017 incarceration.
In the civil lawsuit, Amachree claims his illegal detention was motivated by his work with recovering drug addicts in the county court system. His business, Xtreme Intervention, seeks to help people overcome addiction.
Schmidt apparently had a background check conducted that turned up Amachree's drug history, which he has never denied, along with other accusations. Among them, Amachree took money intended for rehabilitation programs and was blacklisted by rehab programs in some states, specifically Teen Challenge.
According to John D. Gorby, Amachree's attorney, he wrote in the civil complaint, summarizing emails between the sheriff and Dodge County District Attorney Kurt Klomberg obtained by Amachree through open records request.
In one email, Schmidt wrote, "... he was given $3,500 from two families he was 'helping,' which was supposed to go to Teen Challenge. That money never made it to the intended recipient."
Also, included in the lawsuit was an arrest of Amachree which happened decades ago in Illinois for breaking into homes and touching women's feet and then, more recently, was accused of rubbing a client's feet.
Amachree calls the claims in the civil suit defamatory and baseless. Foot rubs, he contends, are therapeutic and supported by reflexologists.
In the suit, Schmidt wrote, "In my professional opinion, I find that Selpri has a way with words which allows him to con people into doing what he wants ... "
Amachree said he typically collects a $3,500 retainer from clients for intervention services, successfully helping over 300 people get clean although he emphasized he is not associated with a rehab facility, such as Teen Challenge.
Amachree said the conspiracy against him is supported by an email in which the sheriff wrote, "I have no evidence at this time to proceed with a criminal investigation." Another email from an Immigration officer to Dodge County stated ICE would arrest and book Amachree into the Dodge County Jail "so long as everything checks out."
The plaintiff's attorney says in 800 pages of records obtained from the Chicago and Milwaukee Immigration offices, there is no record of an attempt to check on Amachree's status.
Dodge County Administrator Jim Mielke could not comment on the case, but said, "As this is active litigation, as a general rule, Dodge County does not provide comment."
Schmidt said the same Monday.
"I am not able to comment on pending litigation," he wrote in an email.
However, Schmidt referred the Daily Times to the Dodge County Corporation Counsel Kim Nass, who did not respond by press time.
A status hearing on the case is set in Chicago later this month.