Commissioners to hear grievance on Holder firing

STEVE NASH steve.nash@brownwoodbulletin.com
Michelle Holder is shown with a malnourished horse the sheriff's office was caring for after seizing the animal in this December 2012 photo.

Brown County commissioners will take up a grievance Monday by former sheriff's deputy Michelle Holder, who with her husband, Mike, was fired last month by Sheriff Bobby Grubbs.

Mike Holder, who worked at the sheriff's office as a part-time medical clerk, is a candidate in the Precinct 2 justice of the peace race.

Grubbs fired Mike and Michelle Holder following an investigation into "employee associations with an eight-liner business," a sheriff's office press release stated.

The Holders have maintained that the sheriffs office's investigation was politically motivated and that Grubbs and other law enforcement officials had known about the eight-liners at the Monte Carlo cafe — a business at North Lake owned by Mike Holder's brother, Greg — since 2012. 

It is unclear from agenda for Monday's 9 a.m. meeting what action commissioners can consider taking.

Commissioners will enter into an executive session to "consider the grievance by Michelle Holder concerning termination of employment by Brown County Sheriff's Office pursuant to Brown County Personnel Policy Manual."

Commissioners will reconvene into open session for "consideration and possible action on the grievance by Michelle Holder concurring her termination of employment by the Brown County Sheriff's Office."

Mike Holder was one of three candidates in the justice of the peace race in March 4 Brown County Republican Party Primary election. Holder finished second to incumbent Bob Wall, and the winner will be determined in a May 27 runoff between Wall and Holder.

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.

Mike Holder said in earlier interview he'd told his brother repeatedly to make sure the eight-liner machines Greg Holder operated were being run legally.

And until a Department of Public Safety officer told Greg holder different, Holder said, the Holder brothers believed there was nothing illegal about the machines.

"Did I know they were illegal? No," Holder said then. "Nobody else knew they were illegal" until the DPS officer visited the Monte Carlo Cafe on Feb. 19 and ordered the machines shut down.

Holder said the trouble stemming from his brother's eight-liners is politically motivated because he is running against in the justice of the peace race.

According to the sheriff's office press release on the Holder firings,"it was determined that two employees were in violation of departmental Professional Conduct policies concerning their association with questionable activity (promotion of gambling)."

The Holders have maintained that Michelle Holder told sheriff's officials and other authorities about the eight-liners at the Monte Carlo in 2012, but that sheriff's officials took no action until last month.