Police union loses training lawsuit

D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan said Thursday that the District has sued 13 former or current employees for collecting unemployment benefits while on the city's payroll.

The District acknowledged in February that it was investigating scores of city workers for fraudulently claiming they were out of work while they were actually holding posts throughout municipal government.

The city has fired some workers, but the lawsuits are the first court actions the District has launched to try to recover the lost funds. The amounts the city is seeking vary, but in one case, the District is trying to recoup nearly $14,000.

"Those who have defrauded the District government must be held accountable for their actions," Mayor Vincent Gray said. "These suits are part of that process."

The city has not ruled out criminal prosecution in some cases.

In other legal action involving the city, the District notched a victory over the city's Police Union when a jury said the Metropolitan Police Department acted appropriately when it required a top union official to participate in training programs.

In 2008, the department stripped Delroy Burton, the union's executive steward, of his police powers after he failed to attend training required of all police officers.

Burton argued that because the union's collective bargaining agreement allows its leaders to work on labor matters full time, he didn't have to take part in the training.

Although the Public Employee Relations Board ruled in the union's favor, a jury rejected Burton's stance.

Police Chief Cathy Lanier hailed the verdict.

"We never know when we may be called upon to act in the interests of public safety," Lanier said. "To that end, we must all, regardless of rank or position, partake of regular in-service training."SClB