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Harassment hearing for Westmoreland County sheriff’s chief deputy scheduled Oct. 2

September 27, 2018

A summary hearing for the chief deputy of the Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Department on a harassment citation has been scheduled for Oct. 2 -- 8 days after her boss, two-term Sheriff Jonathan Held, is slated to stand trial on public corruption-related charges.

Patricia Fritz, 63, of Mt. Pleasant, was charged Aug. 22 by county detectives with summary harassment. Greensburg District Judge Chris Flanigan will hear the case against her next month, according to the online court docket.

Fritz faces a fine, if convicted.

Detective Randy Gardner alleged that Fritz made physical contact on Aug. 7 with Cpl. Steven Felder during an altercation inside the department. Felder, president of the union that represents deputy sheriffs, claimed Fritz, who is the department’s second in command, pushed him in the chest during a grievance hearing involving another deputy when it became heated.

According to the citation filed before Flanigan, police said another deputy witnessed the incident.

Fritz was hired in 2010. She earns about $42,000 a year.

A private criminal complaint Fritz filed on Aug. 24 against Felder has to be “signed off” by District Attorney John Peck before it is formally scheduled, said Don Heagy, magisterial courts administrator. That complaint also was filed in Flanigan’s office.

Fritz has said she will challenge the harassment allegation. She contends in her private complaint that Felder was physically abusive towards her during an altercation.

Although Fritz was initially suspended with pay following the Aug. 7 incident, Held reinstated her on Aug. 24. County commissioners then barred Fritz from the courthouse and other county properties.

Held said Fritz is working from home.

Through the county’s human resources office, commissioners this week said Fritz still is being investigated for alleged violations of the county’s work place violence policy.

Jury selection for Held’s trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 24. Held, 43, of Hempfield, has pleaded not guilty.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office in February charged Held with two theft counts and one offense of conflict of interest for allegedly using county resources and staff for his re-election efforts.

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