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Sheriff lost the election. One minute later, he fired the deputy who beat him

Former Bon Homme County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Maggs says he was fired by his sheriff after beating him in the primary election.
Former Bon Homme County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Maggs says he was fired by his sheriff after beating him in the primary election. Facebook, Mark Maggs

The polls had only been closed for one minute when a South Dakota deputy running for sheriff received a termination letter from his boss — also his defeated opponent.

Former Bon Homme County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Maggs posted the termination letter — dated June 5, at 1901 hours — to Facebook with the comment, "Here's the Integrity of Lenny Gramkow."

The Inforum reported that 1901 hours, or 7:01 p.m., was one minute after the primaries closed. Gramkow is the county's current sheriff and Maggs' opponent in the election race.

Here's what the letter, typed in caps-lock, says:

"Mark Maggs:

This letter is to inform you that effective immediately you are terminated from the position of deputy sheriff for Bon Homme County. As of this moment you are no longer an employee of Bon Homme County.

Please turn in all equipment belonging to Bon Homme County by 5 p.m. on June 6, 2018."

The letter was then signed by Lenny Gramkow, Bon Homme County Sheriff.

Maggs and Gramkow were the only two candidates in the primary, according to the South Dakota Secretary of State's unofficial election results. Maggs won by a nearly 3-1 vote margin, or 878-331

South Dakota is a "right to work" state, which means employees can be fired "at the will of either party." In addition, South Dakota Codified Law Chapter 7-12-10 gives sheriffs the authority to appoint and remove deputies. Each "removal" must be in writing and filed with the county auditor.

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Bon Homme County Sheriff Lenny Gramkow South Dakota Sheriff's Association

Although Maggs was fired, the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan reports that Maggs will still take charge of the department in January when he takes his elected role.

Maggs told the Inforum he plans to talk to the county commission before speaking publicly. Gramkow has not responded to requests for comment.

Bon Homme County Commissioner Russell Jelsma told the Inforum that he's sure this "will be discussed" during Thursday's meeting.

County residents have started an online petition titled, "Give Bon Homme County Deputy Sheriff Mark Maggs his job back." It has been signed more than 1,000 times.

"Maggs has a family and 4 young children who have now lost insurance benefits!" the petition states. "Mark Maggs will not be able to take his elected position until January 1, 2019! Lets petition to get Deputy Maggs reinstated back into full time employment with the Bon Homme County Sheriffs office until he takes over his elected position!"

In a Facebook post viewed by the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan, Maggs said the petition was not necessary.

“I trust our county commissioners heard your voices (Tuesday) night through the election results, and I also trust that they will stand with my family and I the way you all have and ensure that my family will not be left hanging without an income or insurance," he wrote. "Thank you all again for the tremendous level of support through the years and currently. It means the world to us."

That post has since been removed.

Maggs joined the sheriff's office in 2013, according to his election flier. Gramkow took office in 2013, according to his bio on the South Dakota Sheriff's Association website.

Last year, a federal judge ruled that a detective could be fired for opposing a sheriff's re-election, according to The Washington Post. That ruling was made after a Virginia homicide detective supported his sheriff's opponent in the primary race.

Bon Homme County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Maggs does the ice bucket challenge.

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