Pictures taken inside a local district attorney’s office has caused controversy among county officials.
A Somerset County maintenance employee reported a candle and beer cans were found inside District attorney, Jeff Thomas office. The items found go against courthouse policies.
“The county does have a policy against candles and other open flames in county buildings for obvious reasons,” said Somerset County solicitor, Michael Barbera. “The county has a drug and alcohol-free workplace policy and while the district attorney is an elected official and not an employee of the county, that doesn’t make his violation of the policy right. Again, these are not complicated, obscure policies. I think they are pure common sense,” he added.
Somerset district attorney, Jeff Thomas explained the items found were from a celebration over a conviction, which he was told was a tradition in the office.
“We had just convicted an individual for corruption of minors, we had a trial, long two-day trial. And at the end which to my understanding was customary in the office, everyone had a beer to celebrate. One beer was done responsibility after hours,” said Thomas.
The maintenance employee took pictures of beer cans which were found in a trash can in the office. Thomas says his main concern is privacy of the county’s cases.
“I mean we have as you can imagine we have a lot of confidential information in the office and the integrity of investigations is my upmost concern, so I have to take whatever steps I needed to to make sure that stays that way,” explained Thomas.
As a result, Thomas requested county maintenance employees not be allowed in his office without supervision, but he says now, they are not coming in to take out his office’s trash at all. County solicitor, Michael Barbera says because of this incident, they are changing their policy.
“The employees in this case, they did what the normally do. If they see something out of place, they take a picture of it. We’ve altered those protocols to address the concerns of photographs and we are now requiring an incident report,” said Barbera.
we submitted a right to know request to Somerset county but have yet to receive the pictures showing beer cans in the DA’s trash.