DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Former Delray Beach City Manager Mark Lauzier has filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming he was terminated in retaliation after raising concerns about an expense filing by the mayor.
The city commission fired Lauzier on March 1 at a special meeting that was called to discuss his performance. The city commission had previously approved a 4% raise for Lauzier in January.
In the lawsuit, Lauzier claims he objected to Delray Beach Mayor Shelly Petrolia requesting the city pay for her son to travel to Tallahassee with her. The trip was for an event where elected officials could "meet with the Florida State legislature for lobbying purposes."
"The son is not an employee of the city and she attempted to have taxpayers pay for his travel, so Mr. Lauzier reviewed it and he denied it," said Isidro Garcia, an attorney representing Lauzier.
Lauzier denied the expenditure on February 25. The filing claims the next day her husband reimbursed the city for their son's travel. That same day, city commissioner Ryan Boylston called for the special meeting to discuss Lauzier's performance.
The filing also claims the "audit" that was conducted by Julia Davidyan, the city auditor, "was prompted by the Mayor, and was hastily slapped together at the last minute in time for the meeting."
"It goes from you're a good employee to you're out" commented Garcia, who called the termination a "Hail Mary pass" that won't "be completed this time."
At the March 1 meeting, the city’s auditor laid out allegations against Lauzier, accusing him of creating positions, and bypassing the city’s procedures for screening job candidates, especially in the hiring of an assistant city manager. Mayor Petrolia spoke out during the meeting, stating "this is something we cannot stand for, there is a broken trust."
However, the lawsuit claims that Lauzier "had the authority to hire and fire" people for those positions. Defending himself at the March meeting, Lauzier said "I'm a man of integrity, I'm not sure what's going on here with the integrity issue."
City commissioners appointed fire chief Neil DeJesus acting interim city manager after Lauzier's termination.
The city of Delray Beach declined to comment on pending litigation.
NewsChannel 5 has reached out to Mayor Petrolia and Mark Lauzier for comment, but has not received a response.
READ THE LAWSUIT HERE: