On his first day, new Westmoreland County sheriff finds his office littered with dirty clothes and a DVD of Paul Blart: Mall Cop | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

On his first day, new Westmoreland County sheriff finds his office littered with dirty clothes and a DVD of Paul Blart: Mall Cop

Photo illustration: Abbie Adams
A mysterious mess appeared in Westmoreland County yesterday. TribLive reported that newly instated Westmoreland County Sheriff James Albert walked into the office to find it “trashed” on his first day. When Albert arrived at his new digs, he was greeted with boxes of old arrest warrants blocking the door, trash strewn about, and a pile of dirty uniforms topped with a DVD of Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

Albert called it “disgusting” and told TribLive, “You would have to think it was intentionally done just to distract us.”

In November, Democratic candidate Albert defeated the incumbent sheriff, Republican Jonathan Held, who was first elected to the position in 2011. Held’s tenure as sheriff did not go smoothly. In Feb. 2018, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office filed criminal charges against Held, including a felony count for conflict of interest for directing his staff to perform campaign duties, and a misdemeanor charge for diversion of services, alleging that he used county resources and time to help with his 2015 reelection campaign.

Held has repeatedly denied all charges. His case went to court in 2018 but ended in a mistrial due to a hung jury. A new trial date has not yet been set.

While the trash and dirty laundry are a nuisance, the placement of the DVD is arguably the most direct insult to Albert. The 2009 comedy Paul Blart stars Kevin James as the titular mall cop, who frequently rides around on a segway preventing ruckus in the mall. He is not generally taken seriously as a mall cop, so the DVD would appear to be a taunt at Albert’s credentials, though before he was elected sheriff, Albert previously worked as a police officer, a county detective, and a district judge. (Blart eventually gains respect when he saves the mall from a hostage situation).

Albert has not accused Held of trashing his office, but he did tell TribLive that he had not been allowed to tour the office before his term began. But Held does accuse Albert of staging his own dirty laundry-Paul Blart set-up, saying, “It sounds like it was staged to me. Maybe he’s seeking attention.”

Coincidentally, on the first day of Albert’s administration, the same day he found his office trashes and fired several employees of the sheriff’s office, the entire Westmoreland County courthouse was evacuated after a bomb threat was called in to 911. There was no bomb found and the building reopened.

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