Southeast Texas Record

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Galena Park administrator claims race behind termination attempt

By John Suayan | Mar 21, 2016

A Galena Park official has sued the city and its mayor on allegations he was the target of an attempted termination, recent Houston federal court records show.

In a lawsuit filed Mar. 15 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas, Galena Park City Administrator Robert. C. Pruett alleges that Galena Park Mayor Esmeralda Moya sought to remove him because he is white.

Pruett, a Brazoria County resident, was the city’s police chief from 2000 to 2012.

Per the complaint, immediately after Moya took office in July 2014, she and then-Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia requested for sheriff’s deputies to escort the plaintiff to her office.

Authorities apparently informed him that he “was not under arrest” to which court papers counter the act was an example of “warrantless and oppressive conduct.”

“They advised the plaintiff that the mayor would give the plaintiff a letter of termination and they would then give the plaintiff a criminal trespass warning and escort the plaintiff off the premises,” the original petition recalls.

Pruett argues Moya and Garcia, who is also a defendant in the case, were wrong to send the deputies to his office, citing his background as an experienced peace officer.

The suit further alleges that Moya hired replacements for Police Chief John Rader and City Attorney Jim Defoyd, both white, as well as publicly declared during her mayoral campaign that she intended to “get the white trash out of city government.”

“The defendants intentionally or recklessly engaged in a course of conduct to create a hostile work environment so that the plaintiff and others would feel compelled to resign,” the complaint says.

“The plaintiff and others were held to a different standard than younger, female Hispanic employees.”

Rader has a lawsuit pending against Moya.

Moya, Pruett adds, conducted an illegal meeting with Jacinto City Mayor Ana Diaz while the former was still mayor-elect. Diaz and Jacinto City join Galena Park, Moya, Harris County and Garcia as co-respondents.

Consequently, the complainant seeks unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

He is represented by attorney Paul H. LaValle of the Law Offices of Paul Houston

Lavalle & Associates, P.C. in Texas City.

Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas Case No. 4:16-CV-0691

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