Friday, May 17, 2024

Carthage city administrator sues city, council members, Carthage Citizens United

Claiming he has been targeted because of his success in uncovering corruption and graft in the Carthage Parks Department and Convention and Visitors Bureau, City Administrator Greg Dagnan filed a lawsuit against the city, city council members and Carthage Citizens United today in Jasper County Circuit Court.

Listed as defendants in the lawsuit are the City of Carthage, council members Tiffany Cossey, Alan Snow, Jana Schramm, Derek Peterson, Chris Taylor, Lori Leece, Dustin Edge, Terri Heckmaster, Thomas Barlow and Carthage Citizens United.

In the petition, Dagnan, who has been city administrator for the past two years and previously served as police chief for 13 years, outlined the war that has been waged against him by certain City Council members and people who lost out when Dagnan uncovered problems with a proposed land purchase around Precious Moments.

According to the lawsuit, when Dagnan questioned why the city was paying $6 million for land that had been valued at $4.1 million, the deal fell through.

From the petition:

Early in Mr. Dagnan’s tenure as City Administrator, {Mark Peterson} the then-City-of-Carthage Parks Director, approached Mr. Dagnan and Council about purchasing a 254-acre tract of land. The employee proposed developing the tract of land into a park. 

The City of Carthage pursued the new park project. When the land was appraised, the land was valued at $4.1 million. However, when a purchase price of $6 million was preliminarily agreed to between the parties. Mr. Dagnan questioned the discrepancy. Eventually, the Council rejected the proposal and did not purchase the land. 

{Peterson} ultimately resigned over the City of Carthage’s reluctance to purchase the large tract of land. After the resignation of Mr. Dagnan discovered accounting irregularities that related to the operation of the City of Carthage’s Parks Department. Mr. Dagnan reported his findings to the Council, and eventually, law enforcement. 

A forensic audit concluded that more than $142,000 of City of Carthage funds were unaccounted for. Criminal charges were filed against the parks director relating to the missing city funds. 

Mr. Dagnan discovered additional accounting irregularities involving the Carthage Convention and Visitors Bureau. Another forensic audit revealed that Director of the Carthage Convention and Visitors Bureau, had made several thousand dollars worth of unauthorized purchases and transfers using City of Carthage funds, including purchases for alcohol, salon trips, and cash transfers to family members. 

 The State of Missouri criminally charged both for their theft of City of Carthage funds. In response to Mr. Dagnan’s efforts to identify corruption and graft at the City of Carthage, a political action committee was formed to oust Mr. Dagnan from his role as City Administrator. 

Carthage Citizens United formed in 2023 and aggressively began fundraising in efforts to replace Carthage city council members with new members who would carry out the organization’s bidding of firing Mr. Dagnan. 

Carthage Citizens United endorsed city council candidates and poured more than $10,000 into ensuring these candidates were elected. Carthage Citizens United endorsed Mr. Peterson, Mr. Edge, Mr. Barlow and Ms. Schramm. 

Indeed, one of the council members endorsed by Carthage Citizens United– Ms. Schramm– served as an inaugural office holder Treasurer– upon the organization’s formation.

 In April 2024, Carthage-Citizens-United-endorsed candidates, including Ms. Schramm, each won city council seats. At the first public meeting of the newly convened Council, on April 9, 2024, the Council attempted to fire Mr. Dagnan, voting 7-2 in favor of firing Mr. Dagnan. 

In the process of doing so, Mr. Snow expressly referenced Mr. Dagnan’s involvement in uncovering the Carthage Convention and Visitors Bureau scandal. Mr. Snow cited Mr. Dagnan’s uncovering and report of unlawful conduct as an example of how the council had “lost trust” in Mr. Dagnan. 

Mr. Dagnan’s involvement with uncovering the theft of more than $142,000 from City of Carthage also factored into the Council’s attempt to fire Mr. Dagnan. 

The Mayor of Carthage, Dan Rife, refused to forward the vote because it was not included on the meeting agenda and would have violated the Sunshine Law, which requires advance notice of new business. 

A special city council meeting was scheduled for April 11, 2024. During the April 11, 2024 city council meeting, the Council again attempted to fire Mr. Dagnan.

In the lawsuit, Dagnan alleges the council violated the Sunshine Law in its efforts to fire him, interfered with his contract with the city and defamed him.

All city council members and the city are being sued for a violation of state law when they attempted to fire him for reporting the problems in the Parks Department and the Convention and Visitors Bureau and violations of the Sunshine Law.

Council members Cossey, Snow, Schramm, Peterson, Barlow, Edge and Heckmaster are accused of violating the Sunshine Law through their various efforts to fire Dagnan without giving him proper notice, according to the petition.

The same council members are named in the count alleging defamation.

Carthage and the Council published one or more false and defamatory statements about Mr. Dagnan.

On April 9, 2024, members of the Council publicly humiliated Mr. Dagnan by voting to fire him in a public meeting. 

On April 11, 2024, members of the Council said Mr. Dagnan was “untruthful” and city employees were afraid of Mr. Dagnan. 

On April 9, 11, 29 and May 10, 2024, members of the Council falsely stated that Mr. Dagnan had been fired. Members of the council told Mr. Dagnan that he should sit in the audience because he was no longer employed by the City, even though Mr. Dagnan remained employed by the City.

All statements by the council members were live streamed on the City of Carthage’s YouTube channel. As a direct result, Mr. Dagnan has sustained emotional distress and pecuniary damages to his career, losing his job and damage to Mr. Dagnan’s reputational standing.

The seven city council members and Carthage Citizens United are alleged to have interfered with Dagnan's contract.

Dagnan also alleges that Carthage Citizens United and Schramm violated state law by taking action against him because of his efforts to deal with corruption in the city.

Mr. Dagnan is a protected person, under RSMo. 130.028.1(1), because he is an “employee in this state” who exercised political beliefs and opinions, including that corruption and graft should not be tolerated by the City of Carthage and that no person, regardless of affiliation or community standing, should be above the rule of law.
Carthage Citizens United was formed by Ms. Schramm, as Treasurer, who is now a member of the Council that employs Mr. Dagnan. 77. Carthage Citizens United has repeatedly threatened to discriminate against Mr. Dagnan with respect to his compensation, terms, condition and privileges of employment because of political beliefs and opinions. Carthage Citizens United posted numerous times on Facebook criticizing Mr. Dagnan and advocating for his removal as the City Administrator.

Dagnan is requesting a jury trial and is asking for damages, punitive damages and attorney fees. 


Anonymous said...

The funny thing part is that the public "firing" of Dagnan is right there on video. Cossey's statements? Right there on video too. What were they thinking? Cossey was supposed to be this brilliant lawyer and now the city, or rather the city insurance carriers, will have to settle for a pretty huge chunk of change. They should have been polite and professional and then made up a better reason to fire him.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Randy, I think that is the most pne-sided news article you have written that I have ever read. I’m embarrassed for journalism.
Jo Ellis

Anonymous said...

Dagnan is a true Christian. Filing suit against other Christians. Way to live your faith.

Anonymous said...

"don't let your mouth write a check that you can't cash". hope he wins the suit. Those trouble making women should be fired.

Anonymous said...

One sided? Obviously you're joking. The entire article is based on the lawsuit that was filed. There is even a link in the article. May want to read it.

Anonymous said...

Team Dagnan! He deserves every penny the City will have to pay him.

Anonymous said...

That’s what happens when you speak the facts.

Anonymous said...

He’s suing the city he is in charge of as one of the named parties. So…he’s suing himself

Anonymous said...

What other recourse does he have? It's ok for you to do this to him, but not ok for him to defend himself? Carthage is a circus.

Anonymous said...

I'm happy to see Mr. Dagnan stand up for himself. The man calls out corruption and is harassed, attacked, attempted to be fired, etc. The retaliation is obvious. Makes you wonder what the CCU and Council Member puppets have to gain from doing what they're doing....

Anonymous said...

What does filing a law suit when he has done nothing wrong have to do with Christianity? And how does accusing someone of doing something they didn’t do okay? Religion plays absolutely no part in this.

Anonymous said...

True Christians attempting to skirt the law “mayor AND council” to fire another Christian?

Anonymous said...

Facts are one sided? I would love to hear evidence of wrong doing on Dagnan’s part.

Anonymous said...

Simply reporting what is contained in the lawsuit

Anonymous said...

Agreed. But that’s his specialty.

Anonymous said...

He’s NOT a “journalist.” He’s a fired Press reporter and disgraced school teacher. He’s just an angry old man with a shed full of axes to grind.

Anonymous said...

Some people prefer to get their news from unbiased sources like the Carthage Citizens United Farcebook page 🤡 🤡 🤡

Anonymous said...

And the council wants to "expand whistleblower protections" while they're actively trying to FIRE A WHISTLEBLOWER! As if anyone would ever report anything to them after this circus. Smh

Anonymous said...

What axe does he have to grind about the current disgraceful Carthage City Council? If Peterson isn’t guilty he’ll be exonerated

Anonymous said...

Team Dagnan. That said, he’s filed a petition, and others will have to answer to that in a court hearing law.

Anonymous said...

It probably won't be the first time he has run into people doing bad things that aren't nearly as smart as they think they are.

I won't be surprised if Mr Dagnam has plenty of receipts.

It's about time all their small town game playing catches up with them. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes!

Anonymous said...

His lawsuit involves a prayer for relief. Also, his lawsuit says he was fired. Does his lawsuit mean he accepts his termination?

Anonymous said...

How do you file a wrongful termination lawsuit and still be at your job? How do you file a defamation lawsuit against your employer and keep working there? That shows the mental prowess of Dagnan.

Anonymous said...

No it shows that the tactics of a small group of ppl with money think they can do what they want with no one doing what is just and fair if it is not their way or how they want it. Unfortunately those do prevail many times and that works for them until karma kicks in. I am hoping justice prevails over it in Dagnan’s favor and shines a light on what possibly they are trying to accomplish in the city and trying to win seats in the county commissioner race as well. A great quote the fits in with the on goings of the current council and CCU is: Once the wolves have eaten all sheep they do begin eating one another!

Anonymous said...

I worked for/with Dagnan for over 3 years. As a boss he's not bad and I would count him more truthful than 80-90% of the other people I've worked for in my life. He's not perfect, but there's no cause for removing him in anything I've read about this case.

He did indeed find corruption in use of city funds, and if that's the CCU's axe-grinder, they should be ashamed (and probably held accountable/punished as well).

Anonymous said...

Great article article Randy glad Mr Dagnan got this position instead of the one they wanted, no telling how much more taxpayers money would have be stolen. Nice to see a reporter, reporting the truth for a change