Westmoreland County fires chief deputy of sheriff’s department
Patricia Fritz, the second-ranking member of Westmoreland County’s embattled sheriff’s department, was fired Thursday -- the same day she appealed a summary harassment conviction issued last month for physically confronting a union representative at the courthouse.
The termination came after county commissioners hired a private law firm to investigate and make recommendations about the allegations raised by the president of the union that represents deputy sheriffs. He claimed Fritz attacked him during a meeting in August.
“Based upon that recommendation, Chief Fritz is no longer an employee of Westmoreland County. This action has been taken to ensure that workplace standards are upheld and to ensure the safety of county employees and visitors while on county property,” according to a statement released by Amanda Bernard, the county’s human resources director.
A civil court notice was filed with both the Prothonotary and the Recorder of Deeds and signed by Sheriff Jonathan Held that formally revoked Fritz’s appointment as a deputy. Held could not be reached for comment.
Contacted at her home, Fritz said she had not been notified about her firing.
“I haven’t heard,” Fritz said. “I never touched the man. I told them I would take a polygraph test.”
Fritz, 63, of Mt. Pleasant, was hired in 2010 as a part-time deputy. In 2014, Held promoted her to serve as the department’s second-in command behind only the sheriff. She earned an annual salary of about $42,000.
Held suspended Fritz with pay following the August incident. He returned her to active duty after two weeks, but Fritz worked from home when county commissioners barred her from the courthouse and other county property.
Following a hearing this month, Greensburg District Judge Chris Flanigan found Fritz guilty of a summary count of harassment and fined her $300.
An appeal hearing will be scheduled in Common Pleas court.