Department of Livestock, Officers Sued Over Illegal Search


By Matt Volz,  Associated Press


HELENA, Montana — State livestock agents illegally searched a Montana meat processors' property after suspending his license in 2013, then had him arrested when he called police to remove the agents from his property, the man claimed in a lawsuit filed this month.

Garry Wheelock of Montana City Meats is suing the state Department of Livestock, former agency executive officer Christian Mackay and meat inspection bureau chief Gary Hamel. Wheelock's claims include violations of his constitutional rights to due process and equal protection, intentional interference with his business, trespassing and defamatory statements.

Hamel and Board of Livestock member Brett De Bruycker declined to comment Monday on the lawsuit. Mackay resigned last week for undisclosed reasons after a year of budget shortfalls and an audit that faulted the agency for its accounting practices.

Montana City Meats has a custom exempt license that allows Wheelock to process meat only for the owners of animals, such as ranchers or hunters, rather than sell the meat to grocery stores or restaurants.

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Source:  Associated Press

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