California County to Pay $855K to End Defamation Suit

June 21, 2012

Shasta County, Calif., has agreed to pay $855,600 to settle a lawsuit that accused former District Attorney Jerry Benito of defaming another county employee.

The Redding Record-Searchlight reports the settlement reached Friday ends a legal fight that began about seven years ago.

A federal jury ruled late last month that Benito and three female co-defendants maliciously defamed Joyce Gardner, former director of the county’s victim witness program.

The jury found the defendants made unfounded accusations against Gardner involving improper payments, an extramarital affair and misappropriation of public funds.

The same jury had been scheduled to meet Monday to determine possible punitive damages against the defendants.

Benito lost his re-election bid for district attorney in 2010 and now works for the state office of the inspector general in Rancho Cucamonga.

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