Bethany Krajelis Jun. 13, 2013, 11:51am

Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler won a directed verdict Wednesday in a lawsuit that accused him of firing an employee for political reasons.

In 2011, James Foley filed a federal lawsuit against Prenzler alleging his First Amendment rights were violated when he was terminated in 2010 from his part-time position as an investment manager for the county.

Foley claims that Prenzler, a Republican, fired him because he has affiliations to the Democratic Party and Frank Miles, a Democrat who lost to Prenzler in the 2010 election for treasurer.

Prenzler on Wednesday declined to comment on the suit, but confirmed that U.S. District Judge G. Patrick Murphy issued a directed verdict in his favor.

Court records show that a jury trial in the case began Tuesday. As of Thursday morning, an official order over the directed verdict had not yet been entered into the electronic court record.

Carbondale attorney A. Courtney Cox represented Prenzler and Alton attorney Lee W. Barron represented Foley. Neither Cox nor Barron returned messages seeking comment.

In his May answer to Foley’s amended complaint, Prenzler asserts he terminated Foley because he violated the county’s investment policy when he invested $42 million in low-interest bonds.

Prenzler states in his answer that he sold these bonds in June 2011 at a loss of $365,698. Foley, however, claims that if the bonds had been held longer, they would have made a profit of about $80,000.

Foley further asserts in his suit that the county’s investments in 2009 and the first 11 months of 2010 earned more than $1 million on an annualized basis.

Prenzler, however, contends in court filings that financial reports show that the county's investment earnings decreased by nearly $768,500 in fiscal year 2009 and by about $3.48 million in fiscal year 2010.

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