West Texas US marshal resigns after firing threatened

AP News
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Posted: May 12, 2016 8:13 PM

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — The marshal for the U.S. Western District of Texas resigned Thursday after the Justice Department warned that he would be fired for misusing his office if he didn't resign.

Justice Department spokesman Patrick Rodenbush said only that Robert Almonte was no longer employed by the department and wouldn't comment on the circumstances of Almonte's departure. However, Almonte's attorney, Enrique Moreno, said his client resigned after the Justice Department denied him the opportunity to see a survey performed last September that alleged policy violations.

The study of the working climate in Almonte's office prompted a top Justice Department official to demand Almonte's resignation or he would be placed on administrative leave for the purpose of termination, stripped of his equipment and escorted from his office.

Almonte, a former deputy chief in the El Paso Police Department, had been the U.S. marshal since June 2010 for the district that stretches from San Antonio, Austin and Waco to El Paso.

The El Paso Times reported that the "climate survey" found that Almonte misused employee time by having an employee serve as his personal driver for nongovernment business, failed to get ethics approval for presentations made to law enforcement and to follow management directives on the number and location of those presentations, and asked subordinates to donate to various work-related events.

Also, he allegedly misused agency letterhead and the agency name in fundraising and failed to disclose an outside board position in a financial disclosure form, the newspaper reported.

In his statement, Moreno said Almonte's record as the West Texas marshal was "exemplary." However, the Justice Department's refusal to give Almonte an opportunity to review and address the findings of the inspector general's survey left him no choice but to resign "in the best interest of the Marshals Service and his family."