Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon on the witness stand in a whistleblower trial

Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon is on the witness stand right now for a civil whistleblower case.

The former Director of Jail Compliance is suing Wayne County, alleging Napoleon fired her after she blew the whistle on one of his top commanders.

Back in 2012, Renee Newell reported to her boss that Chief Heard had improperly hired a woman named Tiffany Burgess to work in the jail. Newell told her superiors that Heard was violating the rules by using money from the jail commissary to pay her $45,000 salary.  Newell says she had also been told Burgess was Heard’s niece.  The county denies that, but 7 Action News obtained this email that shows Burgess calling the jail chief “Uncle Jerry.”

During opening statements today, County lawyers said Newell is not a whistleblower. “This is not a person who’s being transparent,” said attorney Jim Surowiec.  The county maintains that they fired Newell because she broke several rules when her half-brother was locked up in the jail.

Stay with 7 Action News for updates on this case as testimony continues.