Westmoreland County contends fired sheriff’s administrator took personnel records
Lawyers for Westmoreland County went to court Friday to ask a judge to order a fired sheriff’s department administrator to return confidential records claimed to have been taken from the courthouse.
The county contends former Chief Deputy Patricia Fritz absconded with personnel records potentially related to complaints lodged against other sheriff’s department employees, including one that involved the deputy who accused her last year of harassment, according to court documents.
Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Chris Scherer scheduled a hearing Dec. 16 on the county’s allegations.
County lawyers claim Fritz and her private lawyer used county records as part of their court challenge of a decision to deny her unemployment benefits earlier this year.
“The county learned through Ms. Fritz’s testimony at this hearing that she, in fact, retained copies and or originals of confidential county property,” according to the court filing.
Fritz, 64, of Mt. Pleasant, was fired in October 2018 shortly after a district judge found her guilty of a summary harassment charge in connection with a confrontation at the courthouse with the president of the union that represents sheriff’s deputies. In August, Senior Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. overturned the conviction.
Fritz’s lawyer, Vicki Kuftic Horne, on Friday denied her client was in possession of county property and suggested the county’s record keeping is flawed.
“We don’t have the documents,” Horne said.
In a separate court filing, Horne said she has copies of documents that support Fritz’s allegations.
She said Fritz in September formally asked the county to reinstate her to her chief deputy position but has yet to receive a response.
Horne also said Fritz has a complaint pending with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission alleging she was improperly fired. She said Fritz intends to file a federal lawsuit against the county, possibly this month.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .