FORNEY, Texas — Former Forney Mayor Pro-Tem Shaun Myers had instructed city resources and the Forney Police Department to criminally investigate a purported source of an inForney.com investigative report which found the City of Forney had potentially violated provisions of the CARES Act and mismanaged federal COVID-19-relief funds when it purchased, among other things, 22 new vehicles.
Records recently obtained by inForney.com through numerous public information requests also show Myers had used his position on the council to pull personnel files, outside of a formal records request process, on current and former city employees who had spoken out against the council member and now-former City Manager Anthony "Tony" Carson on social media and in protests outside city hall.
And, just two days before the apparent retaliatory firing of then-Forney Police Department Chief Mica Lunt, Myers had provided Carson a list of replacements. The events leading to that firing are now under investigation by the Texas Rangers.
Mayor Pro-Tem Shaun Myers sought a criminal investigation to unearth a purported inForney.com source in investigative report
A December 3, 2020, inForney.com investigative report found the City of Forney had potentially violated a number of CARES Act provisions and skirted guidance by state and federal regulators in their use of Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to replace certain vehicle(s) and substantially increase its non-emergency vehicle fleet. The vehicle purchases, totaling just over $662,000, were among $1.4 million identified by the City of Forney in press releases and their own internal documentations, invoices, and accounting as being CARES Act-related expenditures.
The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), which oversaw the administration of the federal funds, identified apparent ineligible expenses in the City of Forney's initial $1.4 million Spend Plan with the agency, records obtained by inForney.com later revealed, but the City of Forney had already spent the money.
Initial reporting by inForney.com identified November 17, 2020, as the date this publication again confirmed, by aerial photography, the purchase and storage of the 22 vehicles at the Forney Police Department's gun and training range located west of West Trinity Street in the Trinity River flood plains.
Four days after that report, on December 7, 2020, Myers emailed Lunt and Carson about an alleged criminal offense of trespassing between the dates of November 17 and 18, 2020, and instructed a review of citizen-registered cameras in the area where the vehicles were being stored and a review of city-owned vehicles' travel to that area.
A law enforcement source familiar with the investigation tells inForney.com that Myers was "adamant" to determine who the "source" or "leak" was that provided information on, not only the purchase of the vehicles, but their obscure location.
"I hope this email finds you well. It's my understanding that on either 11-17-20 0r 11-18-20 there may have been a case of trespassing on city property at the end of Trinity st. where the gun range is located," read an email from Myers to then-Police Chief Lunt and then-City Manager Carson. "I'd like to know if there are any resident cameras registered in the FPD camera registration program along Trinity st. If so, I believe it would be worth looking into camera footage along that street for any unauthorized vehicles that may have entered city property during the daylight hours of those dates."
"I also believe it would be beneficial to know if any city vehicles traveled in that direction or entered the property on those days that may have been unaccounted for," continued that email. "If you have any questions about my request please let me know."
The source says Myers believed a Forney Police Department or Forney Fire Department employee allowed access to the gun range to inForney.com for the purposes of obtaining the photographs and further sought the historical tracking data of all employee vehicles' equipped GPS to determine who may have been in the area at the time reference in his email.
Then-Director of Operations Neil Cardwell, who now serves as the City of Forney's deputy city manager, was later attached to the emails as it pertained to the review and tracking of the city's fleet monitoring program.
Ultimately both requests provided no substantive findings or criminal offenses as alleged by Myers, the source told inForney.com.
E-mail records also show Myers had used his position on the council to request personnel files on apparent political foes and provided a list of police chief candidates two days before Lunt's apparent retaliatory firing — a matter under investigation by the Texas Rangers
On February 21, 2021, Lunt filed an official grievance against Carson alleging a pattern of improper and hostile working conditions. Just over a month after filing that grievance, on March 26, 2021, Lunt was terminated.
Two days before that termination, email records show, on March 24, 2021, at 4:32 p.m., Myers provided a list of four police chief finalist for the City of Celina to Carson.
"Here are the four finalists in Celina in case this becomes a need," stated Myers, in that email. Carson confirmed receipt of that email at 5:02 p.m. by stating, "Thank you."
Lunt was placed on administrative leave the next morning, March 25th, and ultimately terminated the day after, on March 26th.
The Texas Rangers are now investigating the events which led to Lunt's termination, according to an April 9th notice to preserve records served to the City of Forney. More on that, here.
During the fall-out from Lunt's firing — which prompted, among other things, protests outside city hall — Myers requested the personnel files of current and former employees who either participated in the protests or were recently outspoken on social media and in interviews with the press.
In what would later be the final hours before Carson's termination, Myers requested, on April 5, 2021, at 10:50 a.m., the personnel files on the four current and former employees in an email to Director of Human Resources Deborah Woodham and Carson.
In just over an hour's time, at 12:50 p.m., Woodham provided those personnel files to Myers, according to the email timestamps. This request was not documented or recorded through the City Secretary's Office as a formal records request, which would have ultimately allowed for public scrutiny and transparency, according to a list of all public records requests fulfilled within that time frame.
The next day, on April 6, 2021, the Forney City Council unanimously approved a separation agreement with Carson — this after calls from the community and two prior motions, which ultimately failed, calling for Carson's termination at the city council level.
On April 7, 2021, Myers resigned his position on the council in what would be his first of two such resignations in about a month's time.