A Fernan city councilman threatened to fire the city’s dog catchers after they gave him a ticket and picked up his pet, according to sheriff’s reports.
Councilman Michael John Verbillis Sr., an attorney, also spit profanity at pet shelter workers, threatened to urinate on an animal control officers’ truck and repeatedly called one deputy a Nazi, sheriff’s deputies said.
Verbillis, who serves as president of the state’s trial lawyers association, was so abusive Kootenai County Sheriff Pierce Clegg has sought a written apology for his “impudent, vulgar, unethical and wrongful behavior.”
“Mr. Verbillis was rude, profane and felt he was above the law,” Clegg wrote in a letter to Fernan Mayor Mary Ann Tierney. He “bragged about his influence in Fernan and his plans to abuse his status on the council for personal gain.”
Attempts to reach Verbillis were unsuccessful Friday. A woman who answered his home telephone said, “Why don’t you find something worthwhile to write about?”
It’s not the first time Verbillis’ temper has gotten him in trouble.
Verbillis will go to trial in February on charges he deliberately smacked a pedestrian with his car last year while the two argued over a parking space. After the victim shouted that he’d been hit, according to police reports, Verbillis said “Here’s a quarter to call someone who cares.”
The pedestrian suffered minor bruises, according to court records.
This latest spat has been brewing almost a month.
The city of Fernan contracts with Kootenai County for its animal control services.
After his dog was nabbed by deputies Nov. 16, Verbillis told animal control officer Dusty Rhoads he would “ensure that the City Council reviewed our contract and have this sort of thing stopped.”
“We hired these communists, we can fire them,” Verbillis said, according to the sheriff’s letter.
When Verbillis then went to the Kootenai County Humane Society to retrieve his dog, the abuse continued, Clegg wrote. One male and three female workers there filed written complaints about the councilman’s profanity.
“Until recently, the act of swearing in front of a woman was a crime in Idaho,” Clegg wrote.
The sheriff asked Mayor Tierney to punish Verbillis for his “reprobate behavior.”
Tierney said Friday she expects the issue to come up at the city’s Jan. 6 council meeting. She also said she’d talked to Verbillis about the ticket and told him to “pay the fine.”
When asked if the city planned to cancel its animal control contract, Tierney said, “Absolutely not, absolutely not, absolutely not.”