Shelton saga ends

One of the more bizarre sagas from the Butte County Sheriff’s Department was resolved recently, when the county settled a lawsuit brought a decade ago by former jailer Bill Shelton.

Shelton was one of two jail guards who, in 1996, blew the whistle on four other guards who allegedly encouraged jail inmates to beat up an accused child molester. At first then-Sheriff Mick Grey tried to fire the whistleblowers, but he backed off and put them on administrative leave. Eventually they both took stress-related retirement.

Later that year, sheriff and district attorney investigators raided Shelton’s Magalia home and seized several items they charged had been stolen from the Butte County Historical Society. Shelton, an antiques dealer, insisted they were either his property or had been lent to him for safekeeping. At trial, he was acquitted on some charges and the jury hung on others.

He sued the county in 1997 for $1.2 million, charging his arrest was in retaliation for blowing the whistle.

County Counsel Bruce Alpert told the Enterprise-Record the county decided to settle the suit—for $150,000—because it would have cost more to fight it, given the long delays and fading memories of events.