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Judge Don Johnson speaks during discussion of a report from the Finance Department about the utilization of the Industrial Tax Exempt Program (ITEP) in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Advocate Staff Photo by PATRICK DENNIS

A former Baton Rouge police officer fired in 2012 for allegedly falsifying misdemeanor summonses to hike his overtime pay is asking a state judge to reverse the termination.

The Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board last month upheld Derek Burns' firing. He adamantly denies the allegations.

Burns, who is represented by lawyer Chris Sonnier, claims in a petition for judicial review filed last week that the board's decision "was contrary to both the evidence produced at the hearing of this matter and the applicable law."

Sonnier said Thursday he could not comment on the pending litigation. Baton Rouge Police Department legal counsel Lisa Freeman likewise said she does not comment on pending legal matters.

Burns is seeking reinstatement and back pay. The case has been assigned to state District Judge Don Johnson.

Criminal charges against Burns, 34, were dropped last year. Those charges were first-degree injuring of public records and malfeasance in office.

A forensic document examiner retained by prosecutors told the civil service board last month that he concluded the signatures in question were forged but could not confirm Burns wrote them based on the available evidence. The original document examiner died and could not be called to testify.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III has said his office dismissed the charges against Burns in part because of the uncertainty surrounding the signatures, which contributed to an overall lack of evidence.

Burns, according to his arrest warrant, issued four false summonses to three people without their knowledge in mid-2012, forging their signatures on the documents. The victims told investigators they had never made contact with Burns.

The forms were sent to a certified forensic document examiner who said all four of the signatures were written by Burns, the warrant stated.

Then-interim Police Chief Jonny Dunnam, who served as the head internal affairs investigator on the case, told the civil service board last month that he believes Burns falsified the documents because officers are often paid overtime to appear in court when they do issue misdemeanor summonses. Burns earned about $20,000 in overtime pay the year prior simply from those court appearances, Dunnam said.

Less than a year before the alleged forgeries, Burns had been transferred from the uniform patrol division into prisoner transport -- meaning he suddenly spent less time out on the street making arrests or issuing summonses.

Burns suggested to the civil service board that other officers plotted against him by forging the signatures and persuading the victims to help them.

Follow Joe Gyan Jr. on Twitter, @JoeGyanJr.