HB mayoral candidate counters federal investigation

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Holmes Beach mayoral candidate Josh Linney, at a supporter’s home in the 7300 block of Gulf Drive, acknowledged his loss election night. Islander File Photo: Kathy Prucnell

The feds came knocking at his door.

Joshua Linney lost his bid for Holmes Beach mayor to Judy Titsworth in November by a vote of nearly 80 percent, having been dogged by his military service representations and criminal activities during his campaign — and now afterward.

Special Agent Doug Williams, assigned to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs at Bay Pines in Pinellas County, spoke Nov. 28 about the VA’s investigation into Linney for alleged fraud against the federal government.

“With all my cases, I expect indictments,” Williams said, but, he added, it is up to the U.S. Attorney of the Middle District to pursue the case.

Williams and his partner visited Linney at his Holmes Beach home and asked about his post-traumatic stress disorder disability benefit claim, one of several Linney has made regarding his service since his honorable discharge in 1996.

They asked about the PTSD diagnosis from his “rescue under fire.”

“I never claimed to have been rescued. That’s never been the case,” Linney told The Islander Nov. 28, adding he told the investigators as much.

The former mayoral candidate was a first class private who served in the U.S. Army between 1993 and 1996.

Deployed as a cook to Southwest Asia for about 40 days during Operation Vigilant Warrior, a mission to quell an Iraqi threat on the Kuwait border, Linney never saw combat.

First sent to Dharan, Saudi Arabia, in 1994, Linney was assigned to military outposts at the Kuwait and Iraqi border, he said.

Linney said he was diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome, often attributed to vets who returned from the 1991 war with a cluster of unexplained chronic medical conditions, including fatigue, joint pain, insomnia, respiratory and memory problems.

Hearing of the “rescue” scenario, he said its gravity would require a heightened level of treatment from the VA.

Linney denied any such treatment “in the 10 years my doctor has worked on me.”

According to Linney, he received a 10 percent disability paycheck when discharged from service in 1996, amounting to $93 per month. That amount was increased in 2012 to $1,200 based on a claim supported by his health records, he said.

Since the election loss, Linney has vowed to continue his political involvement. His plans include working on state cannabis bills — a farm bill for industrial non-THC hemp and a second one promoting veteran access — as well as legislation related to tourist development tax spending and water management practices.