HARLINGEN — Valley International Airport’s former police chief has filed a lawsuit claiming he was fired for conducting an investigation into any ties between the city, airport and Texas Regional Bank.
In the lawsuit filed in 455th state District Court by Houston-based attorneys Jarrett Ellzey and Richard Hinojosa, David Osborne, a former Harlingen police commander, names the city and airport as defendants, demanding $500,000 in damages.
In the 14-page original petition filed in December, Osborne claims he was fired last November “because he reported a violation of law defendant requested him to perform in the course and scope of his employment,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit claims Osborne was investigating any ties to the city, the airport and Texas Regional Bank, which employs two airport board members.
In part, the investigation stemmed from the airport’s contract with a tenant, the lawsuit states.
During his investigation, Osborne also probed any city ties with the South Texas Emergency Care Foundation, it states.
Two weeks before he was fired, the airport gave Osborne a 5.25 percent raise based on “exemplary performance reviews,” the lawsuit states.
When “persons subject to the investigation began asking questions as to (why he) was providing detailed information to a city commissioner, VIA terminated him with a pretext basis offered during an informal call ex post facto,” the lawsuit states, identifying the commissioner as Richard Uribe.
The day he was fired, Harlingen Police Department officials requested Osborne sign criminal trespassing warnings prohibiting him from entering Uribe’s home and restaurant before Marv Esterly, the airport’s aviation director, fired him, the lawsuit states.
“On termination date, three HPD supervisors told Osborne to sign two criminal trespassing warnings. One was for Uribe’s home and the second was for his restaurant. Osborne agreed to sign. Then one of the HPD sergeants asked Osborne to disarm,” the lawsuit states.
“Esterly said effective immediately Osborne was being terminated as chief of police,” it states. “He handed Osborne a termination notice stating reasons for termination: Dishonesty, misconduct and bringing discredit to the airport.”
The lawsuit states the Texas Rangers were investigating Uribe’s allegations against Osborne.
“Osborne was called late on the day of his termination by a Texas Ranger who told him that he had been assigned to investigate allegations Uribe brought against Osborne but that he could not find any criminal misconduct,” the lawsuit states.