Mr. Johns filed the $1 million claim with Atherton on Oct. 2, a year after he was fired following a personnel investigation stemming from allegations that he created a hostile workplace.
Mr. Johns maintains that he was investigated and fired in retaliation for auditing the town's building department and uncovering problems with employee expense accounts, among other things.
In his claim, Mr. Johns says town officials acted with "reckless disregard for the truth" when they asked the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office to prosecute Mr. Johns for allegedly using town time and resources to pursue his outside consulting jobs.
The San Mateo County District Attorney's Office investigated, but ultimately declined to press charges against Mr. Johns, saying there was no evidence that the town suffered any damages.
"My demand for $1 million in compensation from the Town of Atherton for malicious prosecution isn't about the money. It is about reclaiming my professional reputation and restoring respect for the rule of law," Mr. Johns said in a written statement to The Almanac. "In pursuing this claim I hope to minimize the likelihood that a finance director in Atherton, or any other City for that matter, will suffer such severe retaliation for blowing the whistle on official misconduct."
Atherton City Attorney Marc Hynes had no comment on Mr. Johns' million-dollar claim, saying he had just received it and expected to go over it next week with Louis Leone, the town's outside counsel.
In mid-September, Mr. Johns filed several extensive California Public Records Act requests seeking, among other things, e-mails and documents on police department expense accounts, Councilman Charles Marsala's investigation of Mr. Johns, and all communications between the former police chief, former interim city manager, and two other town staffers.
Even without the records he requested, Mr. Johns says in his claim that he has ample documentation to support his request for damages.
"Please ask yourself whether you or any other prudent public-sector chief executive would consider hiring me as a finance director with the stain of a criminal complaint having been launched against me," he said in the claim.
Since his dismissal, Mr. Johns has twice filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Atherton. He withdrew his first complaint in March, when a San Mateo County Superior Court judge told him he would have to choose between suing the town and avoiding the possibility of incriminating himself in the District Attorney's criminal investigation.
Mr. Johns re-filed a slightly amended version of the lawsuit on June 18, after the county district attorney's office dropped its investigation, but withdrew it without comment in August.