PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

October 4, 2012

PAHA served papers, court date set for next week

PORT ARTHUR — The Port Arthur Housing Authority will be in court next week at the request of Joseph Guillory’s attorney. Guillory is the former PAHA director of property services who claims he was fired April 17 for cooperating with the two federal audits of the authority.

The Bernsen Law Firm filed a temporary restraining order and a temporary injunction hearing Wednesday afternoon on Guillory’s behalf. The temporary injunction hearing, which the law firm requested to resolve Guillory’s grievance procedure, was set for Oct. 11 at 1:30 p.m. in the Jefferson County Courthouse.

At the hearing, PAHA Executive Director Seledonio “Cele” Quesada and Commissioners Ronnie Linden and Clonie Ambroise, who were all served papers Wednesday, would have to give Guillory a final answer as to whether his termination is final or if he would be reinstated to his former position with the authority. If the grievance procedure has not been completed, the judge could order the PAHA to finalize the procedure within a designated timeframe.

Guillory’s grievance procedure must be finalized before he could file a lawsuit against the PAHA under the Whistleblower Act, according to the injunction document.

The temporary restraining order was issued to prevent the loss of any evidence, Cade Bernsen, Guillory’s attorney, said.

“We’re seeking justice for a man who we believe was wrongfully terminated for standing up for taxpayers in the community he loves,” Bernsen said.

Quesada declined to comment about the papers served to him Wednesday, but he did acknowledge that he had received them.

The restraining order states that the housing authority and its employees must not destroy, tamper with, shred, delete or remove Guillory’s personnel file; any documents or communications concerning Guillory’s involvement and cooperation with the Housing and Urban Development Department’s Office of Inspector General; and any documents the board of commissioners used in relation to Guillory’s grievance procedure.

“We don’t trust them,” Bernsen said. “They want to do everything behind closed doors in the dark, and we’re trying to shed light on it.”

He said Guillory tried to follow the grievance procedure and get his job back by adhering to PAHA policies, but the authority has not done one thing “in good faith.” Quesada gave Guillory vague reasons for firing him — not turning in reports on time but not producing those reports, Guillory said.

The authority’s board of commissioners met Sept. 24 and discussed the outcome of Guillory’s grievance procedure, which he invoked April 27, but Commissioners Bart Bragg and Ambroise, who investigated his termination, said that “no further action be taken at this time.”

Guillory said he was fired for reporting “various illegal activities occurring within” the authority and cooperating with the OIG June 1 audit of the authority. He said he gave the Inspector General more information than what was in the audit.

bcrum@panews.com

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