Houston demands former council aide repay $118,164 in salary

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Houston officials are demanding a six-figure refund for taxpayers from former District F Chief of Staff Daniel Albert, who was frequently absent during the final 18 months of his city employment, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Records show that Albert, who worked as the top aide for council member Steve Le, wasn’t even in the state from late January to mid-May while collecting his salary. Instead, he was in Georgia and, later, Virginia participating in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s basic course for officers. During that period, Albert listed on his time card that he was working in Houston to continue collecting his $119,600 salary, the newspaper reported.

A city investigation found a pattern of “untruthfulness” by Albert, including incidents long before his deployment. Senior City Attorney Don Fleming wrote to him in a letter on July 12 that Albert had used his employee badge to enter a city facility on just 28 percent of 380 working days between Nov. 1, 2017, and late May of this year, when he was suspended without pay. 

City officials are demanding he pay back $118,164. They are also trying to account for about $800 in electronics and office supplies that Albert purchased with his office credit card, the newspaper reported. 

Albert’s attorney, Sean Timmons, said the city’s request is “ridiculous” and a reprisal for his client’s Department of Labor complaint alleging the city violated his employment rights as a service member.

“Such an abusive mischaracterization of the facts and law relevant to an exempt employee are grossly unfair, unjust and unreasonable, only providing us further evidence of malicious anti-military service animus against Mr. Albert,” Timmons told the Chronicle.

Le has announced he will not seek re-election this fall, partly due to heat he caught from constituents for his lack of oversight of Albert, the newspaper reported.

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