GREENSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) – The one-time warden of the Westmoreland County Prison has filed a federal lawsuit against a county commissioner. John Walton says he was the target of harassment and retaliation by Commissioner Gina Cerilli Thrasher.
Attorney Tom Anderson says his client served Westmoreland County honorably for 24 years but alleges mistreatment by Commissioner Cerilli Thrasher pushed him to retirement and now this lawsuit.READ MORE: 2nd Penn State Student Dies From COVID-19
“Harassment, discrimination and retaliation based on political affiliation, age, and sex discrimination and intentional infliction of emotional distress by the commissioner,” said Anderson.
That’s the basis for the lawsuit Anderson filed on behalf of Walton, the former warden of the Westmoreland County Prison.
“She really began a campaign that never ended to oust the warden because he didn’t do what she wanted him to do,” said Anderson.
Democratic Westmoreland Couty Commissioner Gina Cerilli Thrasher and John Walton have had an ongoing high-profile conflict.
“She called him a neanderthal, she said he couldn’t take direction from a female supervisor,” said Anderson.READ MORE: Living Life To The Fullest: Local Businessman Thriving Thanks To Breakthrough Treatment For SMA
“The worst and most outrageous thing are accusations that the warden had something to do with the suicide of a corrections officer who was under investigation for human trafficking,” Anderson said.
That corrections officer, Henry Sonny Caruso III, took his own life just before federal agents raided a series of massage parlors allegedly run by Caruso’s wife.
For her part, Commissioner Cerilli Thrasher declined an on-camera interview but released the following statement:
“Unfortunately, I cannot comment because it is a litigation issue. However, I am definitely looking forward to having the truth come out in depositions. The County had to hire an outside law firm in 2019 to do an internal investigation regarding the former Warden’s claims and there were absolutely zero findings. I am only one single vote on the prison & salary board.”
“I don’t know if that’s true or not but I can tell you for a fact Mr. Walton is looking to the truth coming out and he’s also looking for justice because no one should have endured what he endured,” said Anderson.
Walton says his client is seeking punitive and compensatory damages.MORE NEWS: McKeesport Police Searching For Missing 13-Year-Old Thomas Grier
The lawsuit also alleges Cerilli Thrasher tried to force the one-time warden into hiring her friends.