A sheriff's office investigation concerning "employee associations with an eight-liner business" has led to the terminations of  Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace candidate Mike Holder and his wife, Michelle, from their jobs with the sheriff's office, according to a  sheriff's office press release.

Mike Holder was employed as a part time medical clerk who had been employed for about nine months. Michelle Holder was a deputy, primarily assigned to environmental enforcement, and had been employed about six years, the release states.

Mike Holder is a candidate in a three-way race for the justice of the peace seat in the March 4 Republican Party Primary election. Other candidates are incumbent Bob Wall and challenger John Lawson.

Holder's brother, Greg, owns the Monte Carlo Cafe at North Lake, where eight-liner machines had been in operation until last week. Greg Holder said in an earlier interview that a Department of Public Safety officer visited the cafe and said the eight-liners needed to be shut down.

According to the press release:

Sheriff's officials began an internal investigation on Feb. 13 concerning employee associations with an eight-liner business in the North Lake area of Brown County.

"It was determined that two employees were in violation of departmental Professional Conduct policies concerning their association with questionable activity (promotion of gambling)," the release states.

"Effective (Thursday) morning, both employees were terminated from employment with the sheriff’s office for policy violations.

  “I want to remind the citizens of Brown County that the sheriff’s office is comprised of conscientious people who have very high standards," Sheriff Bobby Grubbs said in the release. "I am especially proud of our organization as a whole. Our employees work diligently to serve the public in an honorable way with low pay and often difficult circumstances.

"Our employees are expected to comply with the high demand for personal character expected by law enforcement and expressed in our Professional Conduct policy. The public we serve has the right to expect this fully.” 

The investigation is expected to continue for some time in cooperation with the "appropriate state agencies," the release states. No other details or comments concerning the investigation will be released for this reason, according to the release.

On Monday, Chief Deputy Bobby Duvall acknowledged that sheriff's officials were "looking into allegations" that incumbent Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Bob Wall raised in a letter published in the Feb. 19 edition of the Bulletin. Duvall and Grubbs declined further comment at that time.

Wall alleged in the letter that Greg Holder had been operating illegal eight-liner machines and asked, "how could Mike and Michelle Holder not know about this operation?"

Greg Holder said in an earlier interview that he'd believed eight-liners were legal as long as players did not win cash. In a later email, Holder wrote that the consensus "people that frequented my business. … people that came to my business and who also went to other game rooms" was that "it was legal as long as you didn't pay cash."