New lawsuit claims Williamson County deputy was fired because of retaliation

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FILE Williamson County sheriff's office deputy

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A new lawsuit filed by a former Williamson County deputy claims he lost his job in July for reporting accusations about Sheriff Robert Chody.

Brian Johns is seeking financial damages for lost pay since his firing and reinstatement to his former job as a detective working auto theft cases. Before his termination, Johns also served as president of the Williamson County Deputies Association.

The lawsuit details a number of issues that Johns had with Sheriff Chody and other top-ranking members at the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office before he lost his job on July 3. However, Johns claims in the lawsuit that he witnessed Chody stealing from the county.

The lawsuit stated, “In February 2019 Plaintiff saw the County fleet manager working on Chody’s personal Polaris UTV. Plaintiff found out that the County had installed a County-purchased battery and kill switch on the Polaris, using County personnel on County time.”

According to the lawsuit, Johns reported this accusation as well as that the “WCSO had engaged in illegal wiretapping of Plaintiffs attorney” to the Texas Rangers in April. However, the 10-page document states the “Texas Rangers refused to get involved.”

In May, the lawsuit stated, Johns “reported the battery theft incident to the
Williamson County Attorney Dee Hobbs.”

The document further stated that Johns “reasonably believed, in good faith, that the actions by Chody in using County funds, and using County personnel/labor on County time and pay, to improve Chody’s personal recreational equipment, violated state statutes and/or rules.”

A month later, the lawsuit stated that Johns’ attorney and the sheriff received a letter from the Williamson County Attorney’s Office explaining “the County Attorney’s investigation determined what Plaintiff reported was true but the County Attorney would not accept charges because Chody used the Polaris for Sheriff’s Office functions.”

On July 2, Johns came back to work from a two-week vacation and “was relieved of duty and driven home,” according to the lawsuit.

The document further stated that Johns was “charged with insubordination and dereliction of duty but was not given written charges as required by section 614 Texas Government Code. These charges were not valid and were actually made up in retaliation for Plaintiff reporting the illegal activities of the Sheriff and of WCSO.”

The lawsuit stated that the chief deputy fired Johns on July 3.

Johns’ attorney argues in the lawsuit that the termination violated the Texas Whistleblower Act because Johns “was a public employee who was fired by Defendant in retaliation for reporting violations of law by his employer and employees of his employer, to an appropriate law enforcement authority.”

A spokesperson for Williamson County told KXAN that no comment can be made about current or pending litigation.

KXAN also reached out to the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, but has not received any response as of late Thursday afternoon.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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