Former prosecutor sues Truden
October 14, 2005
Tony Hershey, who resigned as a deputy district attorney under Colleen Truden, is suing her, alleging she and her top assistant forced him out.The lawsuit was filed in Pitkin County District Court on Thursday. It says Hershey was reprimanded by Assistant District Attorney Vince Felletter, acting under Truden’s orders, for discussing “matters about pending prosecutions with defense attorneys who [Truden] believed were behind the recall effort, although the discussions … were related to his duties as a prosecutor.”In his resignation letter, Hershey criticized his former boss for allegedly fostering an atmosphere of “abuse, disrespect and outright hostility.” Truden is facing a recall election after former employees made scores of complaints against her.On July 25, Felletter met with Hershey to discuss a number of complaints that Truden had about him. But “there were no complaints regarding [his] job performance,” the lawsuit says.
When he left the office, Hershey said the final straw was a meeting he had with defense attorney Jim Leuthauser on Aug. 1. Hershey, a former Aspen city councilman, said the two were dicussing a case when Felletter started berating him in front of Leuthauser, who is not mentioned in the lawsuit.”[Felletter] said that it was wrong to talk to him, even though it was part of [Hershey’s] responsibilities,” the lawsuit says, “both for his job and ethically, to meet with opposing counsel.”The next day, according to the court papers, Felletter asked Hershey during a staff meeting whether he thought a climate of “fear and intimidation” existed in the office. Hershey said he did think that, and Felletter again berated him and accused him of disloyalty, the lawsuit says. He also made “comments expressing the position that [Hershey] was terminated.”Although he submitted a letter of resignation, Hershey contends that because of that meeting he was fired.Hershey contends he was “always … a loyal, devoted and committed member” of Truden’s staff. He played no role in the recall effort, the lawsuit says, and didn’t even express an opinion about it while employed as a prosecutor.He has suffered damages and losses related to loss of income and benefits, and has suffered distress, humiliation and embarrassment, the lawsuit says. It asks for compensatory, exemplary and punitive damages, along with attorney and expert witness fees.Efforts to contact Truden were unsuccessful Friday.