WINSTON-SALEM -

The Forsyth County sheriff denies he improperly fired an officer less than a year after he returned from serving in Iraq.

The Winston-Salem Journal reported (http://bit.ly/M9KTAz ) that Sheriff Bill Schatzman denied the improper firing in response to a federal lawsuit.

Schatzman said he fired former Sgt. Michael T. Russell in 2010 because Russell was disloyal.

The Justice Department filed a complaint against Schatzman last month saying he fired Russell without cause after he bought $100 tickets in a motorcycle raffle by Davie Griffith, a former deputy running against Schatzman.

Russell denied supporting Griffith's campaign and said he just wanted to win a motorcycle.

The complaint alleges Schatzman violated federal law prohibiting employers from discriminating against service members in job opportunities because of their military obligations.