WARNER ROBINS -- A man who said the city falsely accused him of stealing government fuel wants at least $500,000, saying the government ruined his reputation.
The city of Warner Robins, former Mayor Chuck Shaheen, who is now a councilman, and former Public Works Director Joe Musselwhite were served Kenny Allens April 18 lawsuit this week.
Allen was supervising a work crew in April 2012 when Musselwhite claimed he was selling diesel fuel to two companies, the lawsuit claims. According to the Houston County Superior Court case, a police detective found the claims were baseless, but Allen was arrested anyway in May 2012. The city put Allen on administrative leave without pay in August 2012, when Allen began burning through his unused vacation time and unused sick time. When he ran out of those, he had no compensation at all.
Jason Jones, another city employee who had been arrested at the same time, pleaded guilty last year and received 12 months probation and a $500 fine while being ordered to pay restitution of $246.
Prosecutors said in April 2013 that the charges were being dropped for lack of sufficient evidence to prosecute.
Allen soon asked the city to give him back pay, return his vacation and sick time and give him any vacation time he would have accrued while he had been out on leave. City Attorney Jim Elliott wrote Allen back, saying city ordinances had no provision to give him back pay and reinstate his leave, so the request was denied.
Allen was reinstated with the City and given the position of a supervisor. Despite his reinstatement and removal from administrative leave, he has never been compensated for the time he was forced out of work, Allens attorneys, Kelly Burke and Ron Daniels, wrote in the lawsuit. Subsequently, both Musselwhite and Shaheen have made comments regarding Allen, insinuating that Allen got away with committing crimes.
The lawsuit claims that Allens arrest and prosecution were done with such a sheer lack of evidence against Allen. The lawsuit contends thats proof the city, Musselwhite and Shaheen wanted to go after Allen.
Allen is asking for a jury trial and damages for claims including malicious prosecution, false arrest and damage to reputation, which the lawsuit said have a value of at least $500,000. In an October letter to the city, Daniels wrote that Allens damages were at least $70,000. The city denied those claims in December, and Musselwhite told The Telegraph in November that Allen was not targeted.
Burke and Elliott did not return messages left late Thursday. None of the defendants has yet filed a response to the lawsuit.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.