County judge candidate denies claims in state lawsuit - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

County judge candidate denies claims in state lawsuit

Major General John Furlow Major General John Furlow
Major General Allen Dehnert (Photo: Lt. Col. Shaunte Cooper, Texas Military Forces) Major General Allen Dehnert (Photo: Lt. Col. Shaunte Cooper, Texas Military Forces)

Major General John Furlow, candidate for Smith County Judge, is still fighting claims he and another major general in the Texas National Guard 'double-dipped' while serving the state and the country.

A lawsuit filed in 2010 by the Texas Office of Attorney General on behalf of the Adjutant General's Department, claims Major General John Furlow (former head of the Texas Army National Guard) and Major General Allen Dehnert (former head of the Texas Air National Guard) took state and federal payments for doing the same job during the same time period.

We spoke with Major General Furlow by phone; he told us the state 'does not have a leg to stand on' in this lawsuit.

The lawsuit demands the reimbursement of $129,443.84 from Major Gen. Furlow and $21,089.82 from Major Gen. Dehnert.

Furlow said he and Dehnert filed a countersuit against the state in 2013 and deny the allegations. Furlow called it 'incompetence' by the attorney general's office, saying they did not investigate the situation fully before filing suit.

An audit by the Texas State Auditor's Office found the same findings as described in the attorney general's lawsuit. The audit said leaders of the Texas military forces were taking 'emergency leave' while getting paid from the U.S. Government. The auditor's office said that action is not allowed by Texas law.

The audit sourced state law that said military forces are allowed to use a maximum of 15 days of military leave when on federal orders. After the 15 days are used, members are forced to take state leave without pay, while they are getting paid for their orders by the federal government.

Furlow said the state has still not revealed their evidence in court, keeping the case in the discovery phase nearly four years after the first complaint was filed.

Furlow's opponent in the March Republican Primary is incumbent Smith County Judge Joel Baker. Baker released the following statement regarding the lawsuit:

"I have recently received numerous questions regarding information that my political opponent is accused of wrongfully issuing orders to receive compensation... essentially "double-dipping" while serving as commander of the Texas Army National Guard. It is my understanding that he is being sued by the State of Texas to collect approximately $130,000 in excess compensation and that both the FBI and the public integrity unit of the Travis County District Attorney's Office have been investigating this matter.

At this point, it is a pending civil lawsuit and a possible criminal investigation that has not yet gone to trial. Therefore, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the merits of the case until there has been a final resolution of these matters."

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