Fired & Smeared in Santa Clara, Official Says

     SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) – Santa Clara County’s former public guardian says he inherited problems during his time on the job and was ultimately fired – very publicly – because of them.
     An 11-page federal lawsuit says before former Santa Clara County Public Guardian Don Moody was hired as the public guardian, the county issued multiple reports saying the position needed improvement.
     Santa Clara County’s public guardian is tasked with attending to the physical and financial well-being of residents who cannot manage their own affairs. Moody says he managed “three different county programs and supervised over 65 employees, all in the aftermath of one of the worst financial meltdowns in American history.”
     Years before Moody was hired the public guardian position had been criticized in the press and the focus of civil grand jury proceedings going back to 1998, according to the complaint.
     Throughout Moody’s time in the position, his role was criticized in local media and he was accused of elder abuse – for example, by denying them visitors. He was ultimately escorted out of the office when he was fired in 2014, according to the complaint.
     “To save face in the press, the county summarily fired him, leaked derogatory information about him, and publicly ‘perp-walked’ him out of his office,” the lawsuit says.
     Moody says he was never warned about poor performance and had in fact received only positive performance reviews.
     According to the complaint filed Sept. 24, Moody is a former marine who spent two decades in the field of health administration and in 2008 became the Santa Clara County public guardian.
     He is suing Santa Clara County and its social services agency director Bruce Wagstaff under the federal civil rights “stigma plus” law and for deprivation of substantive due process. He seeks general, special and compensatory damages.
     Neither Moody’s representation James McManis nor the county could immediately be reached for comment.

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