MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A former Eastern Regional Jail administrator said he was fired because he blew the whistle on possible crimes by correctional officers.
Lewis W. Barlow has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority in Berkeley County Circuit Court.
According to published reports, Barlow said he was fired in retaliation for reporting activity at the jail to former high-ranking authority officials. The allegations included correctional officers hiding drugs in pizzas and smuggling them in to female inmates in exchange for sexual favors.
Barlow accused the state of violating the West Virginia Human Rights Act. He also said officials ignored his recommendations for cutting costs at the jail, where he served as administrator from June 2008 until he was fired on Jan. 19, 2010.
The state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, which oversees the jail authority, declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Barlow said he also reported allegations that correctional officers were watching female prisoners shower.
"What is going over there is incredible,'' he said. "People don't know because they cover it up.''
State Police arrested at least one guard as a result of his reports, Barlow said.
Barlow, a retired California police lieutenant and former jail superintendent in Virginia, is seeking $500,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages. The case has been assigned to Judge Christopher C. Wilkes, but a court clerk said Thursday that no hearing dates have been set.
Barlow was hired by Terry Miller, the jail authority's former executive director, and his deputy executive director, Cedric Greene.
Miller was later suspended, then fired after two women in the jail authority's central officer accused him of sexual harassment. Greene is now deputy secretary of the Department of Administration.
Barlow said Miller and Greene told him to report to them, not then-operations chief John King. But after several weeks on the job, Barlow said King told him to stop providing the other men so much information.
Barlow said he ignored King's order and that Greene and Miller failed to protect him when he blew the whistle on misconduct. He also contends they failed to report the suspected crimes to other investigative agencies.
King resigned in 2011 after he was charged a second time with drunken driving.