Former mayoral candidate faces inquiry

Holmes Beach mayor Joshua Linney
]With the Holmes Beach mayoral election ended, Joshua Linney is undergoing a different kind of scrutiny, this one from the U.S. government. - Kristin Swain | Sun

HOLMES BEACH – Defeated 2018 mayoral candidate Joshua Linney is no stranger to scrutiny when it comes to his past, but now the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is investigating his military service.

Special Agent Doug Williams, with the criminal investigation division of the department, is investigating Linney for fraud and misrepresentation of his time in the service of the U.S. Army. Though Williams did not specify the charges, he said he felt confident in the case he’s building against Linney.

After speaking with Williams, Linney said he has paperwork to fill out but feels disheartened that, in his opinion, the government is attempting to withdraw his veterans’ benefits, particularly those related to his 2012 post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis, rather than attempting to treat the disease.

Rather than be investigated for fraud, Linney said he would appreciate the opportunity to undergo treatment, find the root cause of his PTSD and become more functional and able to hold down a typical job rather than rely on finding one that offers flexible hours to help combat his physical ailments and anxiety. He said he hopes to use the inquiry into his service record and previous diagnosis to bring more attention to effective ways to treat veterans issues, including PTSD, anxiety and other service-related disorders.

Prior to running for mayor, Linney served as a private first class in the Army from September 1993 until August 1996 when he was honorably discharged for medical reasons. During his time in the service, Linney was deployed to Southwest Asia for 43 days as a cook during Operation Vigilant Warrior, a mission to dispel an Iraqi threat on the Kuwait border. Though he was never involved in a direct combat situation, Linney said his experiences overseas left him with Gulf War Syndrome, a catch-all illness applied to military personnel deployed to Southwest Asia and returning with medically unexplained chronic symptoms ranging from headaches to PTSD.

Williams said he’s seeking to disprove Linney’s benefit claims and hopes to pursue a conviction through the U.S. Attorney General’s office.

Linney said he’s complying with the requests of investigators, and feels the inquiry is the result of the scrutiny of his service record during his campaign for mayor of Holmes Beach, and possibly a misunderstanding stemming from a 2007 PTSD episode.

During the election, Linney came under media scrutiny due to inconsistencies in different versions of his self-written biographies. He attributed the inconsistencies to misunderstandings and miscommunications.

Linney said he continues to work to uphold the promises he made while running for political office, including getting a ferry to Holmes Beach and a trolley park-and-ride service from 75th Street in Bradenton to the beach.

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