Does not want to pay unemployment

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

The City of Alice filed a lawsuit in district court Monday, requesting the judge review a ruling by the Texas Workforce Commission that required the city to pay unemployment benefits to former interim-city manager Ruben Maldonado.

The lawsuit was filed in the 229th District Court in San Diego, and lists the Texas Workforce Commission and Jesus Ruben Maldonado as defendants.

According to the lawsuit, Maldonado was fired from the city after he allegedly attempted to commit fraud by having his salary nearly doubled.

Maldonado served as the city's human resources manager from 2004 until February 2007, when he was appointed as the interim city manager.

On July 24, 2007 he was notified of his termination by newly-hired city manager Albert Uresti, who alleged multiple counts of misconduct were committed by Maldonado.

That alleged misconduct was restated in Monday's lawsuit filed by the city.

In the lawsuit, the city alleges Maldonado "divulged personnel/personal information from a city employee's application to an outside source in an attempt to sabotage and discredit" Uresti.

Maldonado also allegedly attempted to get Uresti to sign a pay increase that would have more than doubled his salary, and claimed that increase had been approved by the council.

A check of the city council minutes found no record of any approved salary increase, and city council members Dorella Elizondo and Shane Valverde denied claims made later by Maldonado that the increase was approved in executive session.

The lawsuit also included information obtained from two human resources employees who alleged they saw Maldonado conduct an "improper investigation into the background" of Uresti.

The lawsuit states the TWC ruled in favor of Maldonado's request for unemployment benefits, despite testimony from six city witnesses.

The only witness to appear on behalf of Maldonado was former city council member Michael Esparza, the lawsuit stated.

"TWC's final determination is legally erroneous, arbitrary, capricious and not reasonably supported by substantial evidence," the lawsuit states.

In the lawsuit, the city asks the judge to reverse the TWC's ruling in favor of Maldonado and to declare that he is not entitled to receive unemployment benefits.

Neither defendant has yet filed a response to the suit.