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Thurmont officers file 14 million dollar suit against town

George Dorsey
Frederick News Post

A new and amended $14 million lawsuit has been filed by six Thurmont police officers who contend their civil rights were violated by hidden video camera installed in the police station.

The suit also accuses Thurmont Mayor Martin Burns of telling several people that "maintaining this lawsuit will prevent them from obtaining promotions and otherwise furthering their career." The suit does not name either the town's mayor nor any of the town commissioners by name.

The suit was brought by Shawn R. Tyler, Jeffrey T. Gerring, Christopher A. McLoughlin, James N. Davis, Michael A. Figgins Jr. and Richard T. White. It was first filed Feb. 9.

Defendants are the former police chief Neil Bechtol of Fairfield, Pa., police chief Terry Frushour and Sgt. Troy Angell, both of Thurmont.

In a court hearing last week, Judge G. Edward Dwyer Jr., granted a defense motion to dismiss Frederick County as a defendant. Judge Dwyer and plaintiff's attorney Michael J. Belsky of the Baltimore law firm of Schlachman, Belsky & Weiner, agreed Frederick County should not be a defendant since the county is not an agent for the Thurmont commissioners, the town or the police department.

In the same hearing, the Maryland State Prosecutor's office was directed to prepare copies of the video films taken by hidden camera. The copies would be made available to both sides. The state prosecutor's office is investigating whether criminal charges could be brought.

The new 22-page lawsuit seeks $5,996,000 in compensatory and $7,200,000 in punitive damages. The nine-count suit contends the spy camera was installed, undiscovered, for about 11 months. It was designed to intercept conversations as was another device used to record radio transmissions. Chief Frushour was acting chief at the time of the events in the suit.

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