Berkeley Sewer whistleblower suing those who fired him

By John O'Brien | Jun 1, 2006

MARTINSBURG - A Berkeley County man is suing the Berkeley County Public Service Sewer District and three of its workers over his termination, which he says came as a result of his threat to take allegations of wrongdoing to the public.

Walter H. Sebert filed the lawsuit May 18 in Berkeley Circuit Court against Robert Grove, John Myers, John Kunkle and the Berkeley County Public Service Sewer District.

Sebert was employed by the Sewer District from 1993-May 21, 2004, lastly serving as executive director.

He says he was fired because he "advised the defendants that Plaintiff intended to disclose to the public that the defendants had wrongfully and fraudulently misrepresented a loan application to the West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection, State Revolving Loan Fund and the West Virginia Infrastructue and Jobs Development Council for the Inwood Phase II Wastewater Project for approximately $25 million in loans that Defendant… had included in its application that it had in excess of 300 customers from Sylvan Grove Subdivision In Inwood… as its customer base which the defendant PSD did not have at the time of the loan closings."

Sebert believes that the false representations on the loan application were made to acquire the sewer treatment plant of Howard Strauss at an inflated price to repay a political debt owed to Strauss, a member of the Berkeley County Commission.

Sebert cites another similar example in the complaint and adds that he was going to go public with the information that the PSD could not make its loan payments and that the spouses of the individual defendants received Christmas gifts of substantial amounts paid for from the public funds of the PSD.

Sebert is seeking $37,000 in lost salary; $2,800 in vacation time; $1,800 in lost sick leave; $22,332 in 401k contribution losses; $2,250 in health insurance; $20,000 in unpaid vacation time; $37,500 in unrecorded sick leave; and more than $50,000 in legal fees for a total of $173,682.

Michael Scales of Martinsburg law firm Greenberg and Scales is representing the plaintiff.

Judge David Sanders has been assigned the case.

Berkeley Circuit Court case number 06-C-356

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