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Settlement reached over bias claim

A settlement was reached Friday in U.S. District Court in Buffalo in a case that pitted the former coordinator of Niagara County's Work Release Program against the county.

Yehia "John" Hamdy claimed in a lawsuit he was suspended in retaliation for bringing a claim of racial discrimination against the county in 1994. Hamdy retired in 1997 and sued in 2001.

In February, a jury deliberated 50 hours but could not reach a decision, and U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara set a new trial, though he encouraged both sides to "work for a resolution."

Michael F. Perley, who represented Niagara County in the case, said a "gentleman's agreement" was reached after selection of a new jury had begun. He said no official settlement had yet been signed.

In February, a jury deliberated 50 hours but could not reach a decision, and U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara set a new trial, though he encouraged both sides to "work for a resolution."

Michael F. Perley, who represented Niagara County in the case, said a "gentleman's agreement" was reached after selection of a new jury had begun. He said no official settlement had yet been signed.

Hamdy's attorney, Andrew P. Fleming, could not be reached Friday but said when bringing the claim that once Hamdy filed the discrimination lawsuit, things "immediately became much worse."

Sheriff Thomas A. Beilein said Hamdy was suspended because he was physically abusive and disregarded direct orders.

Perley said that by mutual agreement, the settlement was confidential. However, in agreeing that the settlement would be paid by county taxpayers, Perley added, "You will find out in due course."

County Attorney Claude A. Joerg would not confirm any specific settlement figure but said it was above $25,000 and would have to be approved by a vote of county legislators. He added, "I'm not going to come up with a verdict where John Hamdy takes the county for a bushel of money."
e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com1

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