COVINGTON, La. - The owners of a company that was given a no-bid contract to run a work release program in Covington took the St Tammany Parish Sheriff and his office to court saying the Sheriff improperly terminated the contract when he shut the program down last year.

Northshore Work Force, LLC, is a private company owned by a group of businessmen, including Marlin Peachey, Strain's former campaign treasurer, and a former warden at the St Tammany Parish Jail. Sheriff Strain signed a cooperative endeavor agreement with Northshore Workforce to allow the company to run one of two work release programs for him.

In the program, inmates, most from the Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections, were supposed to be employed at jobs around the parish by day, and sleep at the facility located across the street from the St Tammany Jail in Covington.

Sheriff Strain and the Louisiana Department of Corrections shut down the work release program last March, after a string of high-profile escapes and a series of investigative reports by WWL-TV and the New Orleans Advocate about a lack of supervision of some of the inmates and rampant drug use at the facility.

The petition filed by Grey Sexton, attorney for Northshore Workforce, alleges Strain improperly terminated the contract with Northshore Workforce based on the terms spelled out in the contract. Sexton did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Strain attempted to have a ruling on the petition continued, however Judge Peter Garcia compelled the two sides to go to mediation over it. The contract originally gave Northshore Work Force the right to run the work release facility through mid-2016.

A spokesman for Sheriff Strain said the two sides have not yet set a date for the mediation. Calls to the Sheriff's attorney were not immediately returned either.