BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS (CN) – Harlingen City Manager Craig Lonon ordered a city judge to hold a separate, early detention hearing for a politically connected man arrested in a warrant sweep, and retaliated for her refusal by denying her raises and threatening her job, Judge Rebekah Syck claims in Federal Court.
Syck claims Lonon ordered her to violate the city’s ethics policy because, “It’s harder to some people be in jail than others (sic).”
She claims the unidentified VIP is a former Harlingen City Commissioner and was a sitting member of the Harlingen Community Improvement Board, the Downtown Board of Directors, and Leadership Harlingen when he was arrested on May 21, 2007, on three misdemeanor warrants.
She claims the man failed to show for his initial hearing, and that Lonon then summoned her and another judge to his office and said that “he expected them to respond when he ordered a VIP to be specially treated with an early hearing on detention.”
When the judges refused, Syck says, Lonon told them, “‘You do what you have to in regard to magistrations and I’ll do what I have to in regard to evaluations.’ The clear threat was that the failure of the judges to comply would impact raises and reappointment. Since that date, in fact, neither raises nor evaluations were given to Plaintiff Syck”.
Syck claims that Lonon was fired from two previous city manager jobs – in Conroe in 2004 and Cedar Park in 2005 – because of unethical acts.
She claims, “Hiring of Lonon insured further ethical violations and Judge Syck was the target.”
Syck was not reappointed after serving her 2-year term, The Brownsville Herald reported, adding that Syck’s refusal to hop to Lonon’s orders caused the arrested man to spend a night in jail.
Represented by Ed Stapleton of Brownsville, she demands punitive damages.