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Mr. Green’s story began in the summer of 1989 at Human Services, where he had received consecutive “exceeds performance” reviews commending his attention to detail and his willingness to do on-site inspections.

He had reported illegal activities on state construction projects, including kickbacks to procurement officers and offers of jewelry and other gifts from contractors to supervisors who were asked to overlook noncompliance at job sites.

Mr. Green, whose duties included checking for contract compliance, discovered what he believed to be “a pattern of fraud and corruption,” though the supervisors took no corrective measures.

In October 1989, Mr. Green took his concerns to the head of Human Services but received no response. He then reported allegations of extortion, kickbacks and illegalities at 10 specific construction sites to the chairman of the House Budget Oversight Committee.

Within days, Human Services began an investigation — not of the fraud and corruption alleged by Mr. Green, but of his long-distance telephone calls. Investigators checked more than 8,000 calls he made from his office over a 30-month period and, according to state records, found one improper call. That call went to his father and carried a long-distance charge of 13 cents.

Investigators also audited his sick leave, setting up a five-person surveillance team to monitor his activities during hours he was excused from work for doctor-prescribed physical-therapy classes for a job-related injury he sustained in 1988. The therapy had been approved by his supervisors, and he had permission to attend the sessions during work hours.

The team documented one occasion in which Mr. Green failed to attend therapy, though court records show he had been turned away from the session because of an expired prescription, which later was remedied.

Within weeks, on Dec. 12, 1989, Mr. Green was fired, accused of abusing his sick leave, falsifying his sick leave forms and misusing his telephone. The matter was referred to the Travis County, Texas, District Attorney’s Office for prosecution, where he was accused in a third-degree felony indictment.

After surrendering to authorities, he was handcuffed and placed in a cell at the Travis County Jail but later released on a personal bond — facing up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

His only recourse

Mr. Green said the only recourse he had to “right the wrong” was to bring a lawsuit under the Texas Whistleblower Act, which he did on March 9, 1990. He said prosecutors then offered to drop the criminal case if he agreed to withdraw the lawsuit, but he refused.

Shortly before the criminal trial was to begin, the district attorney’s office dismissed the charges, pending further investigation.

On Oct. 10, 1991, after a two-month trial, a Travis County jury vindicated Mr. Green, calling his firing retaliation and awarding him the $13.7 million in compensatory and punitive damages. The state appealed the decision, but the verdict was upheld by the State Supreme Court in May 1994.

Testifying at the civil trial on Mr. Green’s behalf was former U.S. Rep. Barbara Jordan, Texas Democrat and keynote speaker at the 1992 Democratic National Convention, then a professor at the University of Texas’ Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.

Ms. Jordan, a former Texas state senator, said it was “not easy to get people to serve in public office and who really demonstrate and exercise an attachment for the public interest” and she did not want to see a state agency engage in activity “which may deter young people from wanting to enter government service.”

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