A month after receiving City Council approval, city attorneys have followed through with suing a firefighter who was overpaid $63,737 when he retired from the department in 2013.
Fort Worth is suing Fernando Gonzalez in County Court at Law. In the lawsuit, filed June 30, the city admits it erred in how it calculated the amount it owed Gonzalez for unused sick and vacation leave, paying him $223,079 when he was only owed $159,342.
Gonzalez, the suit says, “has no legal right to this money and now holds this money that in equity and good conscience belongs to the city.”
Another retired firefighter, Kenneth Nealy, who retired about the same time as Gonzalez, was overpaid $28,742. The city was prepared to sue him as well, but Nealy has agreed to pay back the money, said Susan Alanis, an assistant city manager.
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Since he agreed to do so without going to court, Alanis said Nealy will pay 75 percent of the total to account for taxes that had been paid.
In 2016, an internal audit found that 20 employees were overpaid more than $250,000 because of problems with a new payroll computer system the city switched to five years earlier and human error. The bulk of the money was paid to nine firefighters who left the department in 2013 and 2015, according to the audit.
Of the other seven firefighters, five set up plans to repay 75 percent of what was owed; one has died and another is incarcerated.
Eleven employees in other departments who were overpaid have already repaid the city, Alanis said.