$3 MILLION SUIT FILED AGAINST HAMPSHIRE CO. SCHOOLS - Financial Officers Cleared After Mezzatesta Calls Police

By Dianne Weaver

The Hampshire County school system has been sued for $3 million by two current workers and one former staff member associated with the system's financial department.

The suit is linked to Delegate Jerry Mezzatesta (D) of Hampshire, who is employed by the school system. Mezzatesta is already under fire for ethical violations related to his Hampshire County position and being chairperson of the legislature's education committee.

Mezzatesta has been the House of Delegates education chairperson for several years, a position equivalent to that which former Senator Lloyd Jackson held in the state senate.

The three who filed the suit say Superintendent David Friend accused them of committing financial irregularities.

The lawsuit says Superintendent Friend asked House Education Committee Chairman Jerry Mezzatesta, to call Hampshire County Sheriff's Deputies to have the three workers removed from the central office.

A CPA hired by the system later determined there were no financial problems.

The three workers wanted a public apology, but never received one.

Mezzatesta has been the target of reports in recent days by the Charleston Gazette. Mezzatesta received a $75,000 education grant. Most of the money was reportedly given to volunteer fire departments in his district.

The state Ethics Commission has informed Mezzatesta he is under investigation for a pair of complaints filed in separate incidents.