Whistle-Blower Cops Sue Community College
DALLAS (CN) - A Texas community college retaliated against three campus police officers who blew the whistle on a scheme to steal $1 million worth of textbooks and money, the officers claim in court.
Billy D. Burleson, Jon J. Mark and Craig A. Bennight sued the Collin County Community College District on Aug. 28 in Dallas County Court.
The men claim school officials in March ordered them to stop their 2-months-long investigation of bookstore thefts.
"Plaintiffs' investigation appeared to begin revealing a complex scheme to defraud Collin College of more than $1 million worth of textbooks and college funds," the complaint states.
"It also appeared to Collin College Police Detective Billy Burleson (who investigated the case with Officer Craig Bennight) and Officer Craig Bennight that there may be corruption and a cover-up by high-ranking officials within Collin College.
"On March 7, 2014, Collin College officials ordered Detective Burleson and Officer Bennight to stop the investigation.
"Detective Burleson and Officer Bennight expressed concern and informed Collin College that the case needed to be investigated by outside law enforcement agencies."
The men say they reported the alleged crimes to college police chief Michael Gromatzky, the Texas State Auditor, the FBI, the Collin County District Attorney's Office and the Texas Rangers.
Since then, they say, they have been "subjected to multiple acts of retaliation."
Bennight said he received a retaliatory write-up one week after being told to stop the investigation. Two weeks after that, he was omitted from a department-wide email list containing policy memoranda required for his job. Then his schedule was changed to overnights and he was transferred to another campus, he says.
Burleson claims he too was transferred to another campus and his flex time was removed.
The plaintiffs claim they "recently received that they consider to be a death threat" that appears to be related to their investigation.
"Furthermore, [Collin College Police Chief Michael] Gromatzky continuously orders officers to stop people on campus and take enforcement actions against them even though no probable cause exists," the men claim. "Such actions are clearly retaliatory and plaintiffs have articulated their concerns about the legitimacy of the chief's directives in grievances filed with Human Resources and in a request to the District Attorney. There is no doubt that Collin College is liable for Gromatzky's flagrant violations of the Texas Whistleblower Act."
Gromatzky is not a defendant. The only defendant is the college district.
College officials did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
Collin College operates seven community college campuses in Collin and Rockwall counties, north and northeast of Dallas.
The plaintiffs seek actual and punitive damages for violations of the Texas Labor Code and Texas Whistleblower Act.
They are represented by Victoria Neave with Neave Scott in Dallas.