MILPITAS (KPIX 5) — The Milpitas City Council met behind closed doors Tuesday night to discuss allegations that City Manager Tom Williams used public money to fund his private lawsuit against newly-elected Mayor Richard Tran.
It’s been revealed that the city manager — who has been in a public feud with an unapologetically brash mayor — used his city credit card to pay $7,000 in his personal legal bills and tried to use the card to pay another $30,000.
SJ Inside obtained the receipts and quotes the city attorney as saying the city manager should be fired.
Williams got a $7,000 payment approved and then was instructed to pay the city back. His legal team has issued a cease-and-desist letter to the mayor accusing him of age discrimination.
City Councilman Anthony Phan said, “The allegations of misuse of public funds are troubling. At the end of the day, we want to make sure we get all the facts.”
Williams says he hired the Ad Astra law firm to investigate a dozen complaints of harassment and hostile work environment against Mayor Tran who’s also led a public and vocal campaign to oust the city manager.
Williams claims he later decided to hire the same firm to represent him and paid the city back $7,000 he’d charged in attorney fees.
The city manager denies any wrongdoing. “That was not the intent,” said Williams. “And I would never use public money for personal use or personal gain. Those allegations are absolutely not true.”
The city council says it wants to know if the same law firm should be representing the city, and Williams, at the same time.
Phan said, “I want to hear the justification for the use of the funds. I want to know why our own legal counsel couldn’t provide those services.”
Williams says he hired an outside law firm to investigate the complaints because he lacked confidence the city attorney could objectively weigh the conflicting claims of the mayor and several high-ranking city officials.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit says it is waiting for more facts to come out before deciding whether a crime was committed.