GREENSBURG, Pa. - The Westmoreland County Sheriff's Office is under investigation for possible civil rights violations.
However, Sheriff Jonathan Held told Channel 11 he doesn’t know why his department is under investigation.
Channel 11 first started hearing about the investigation when we discovered Chief Deputy Patricia Fritz, whom Held calls his right-hand woman, was out of the office.
Late Monday afternoon, the county solicitor sent Channel 11 a statement saying the sheriff's office and Fritz were under investigation for allegations of racial discrimination.
- Westmoreland County Sheriff's Office under investigation
- Pittsburgh teachers 'overwhelmingly' authorize union leadership to strike
- SWAT officers seen outside home
- VIDEO: Pittsburgh released from financially distressed status after 14 years
Held said Fritz is on medical leave due to "mental distress" following a meeting with an assistant county solicitor on Wednesday.
"I was not part of that meeting,” he said. “He was very adamant about keeping us separate and interviewing us separate."
However, Fritz left that meeting with allegations of her own.
"She's claimed she met with another county employee, a man, and they were in a closed room together and there was inappropriate physical conduct,” Held said.
In the letter, it says two individuals allege they were not hired because they are African-American, and another person says he was discriminated against on the job because of his race. All the allegations trace back to Fritz.
The solicitor urged the sheriff to put Fritz on leave without pay pending the investigation.
The solicitor's letter was hand-delivered to Held on Friday, the same day Fritz filed for FMLA.
Held's attorney, Ryan M. Tutera, released this statement to Channel 11: "This is a political witch hunt by certain political opponents who are willing to stop at nothing to tarnish Sheriff Held's good name and ultimately attempt to unseat him."
© 2019 Cox Media Group.