SUNBURY — Six employees of the Northumberland County Weatherization Department are calling for an end to actions by Commissioner Vinny Clausi, who has allegedly created a “hostile and uncomfortable” working environment, accusations the commissioner denies.

In a Feb. 4 letter to human resources, department coordinator Dwayne Scicchitano and five employees claim that Clausi threatened to shut down the department if it didn’t provide Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program help to an elderly woman who didn’t qualify.

“We as a group are respectful to all our superiors and commissioners and would like to be treated with the same respect,” the workers wrote. “Not to be called during or after working hours, being cursed and screamed at and threatened by a commissioner to go to the press or to shut down the program for following the mandated rules and regulations that are set for the LIHEAP Crisis Program.”

The letter to human resources director Joseph Picarelli was signed by Scicchitano, Robert McAndrew, Pamela Bollinger, Barry Schweitzer, David Yakoboski and James Bressi, who said they were “fearful” of losing their jobs or being charged with fraud for going against state and federal guidelines.

The allegations are false, Clausi said Monday.

“For the record, yes, I was upset when I have to make over a dozen phone calls to help a senior citizen,” he said. “I will not be intimidated by the union, and I will fight for our senior citizens till the day I die. I guess it is true what they say in government that no good deed goes unpunished.”

According to the weatherization employees’ letter, Clausi requested the department help an 88-year-old woman named Vincenza Musso during the week of Jan. 12 and “Mr. Clausi did not care if we call the FBI.”

According to Commissioner Rick Shoch, Clausi sought to have the department pay for a new furnace for Musso and another woman.

On Jan. 20, Clausi told Scicchitano that if his department didn’t help the woman, he would “embarrass the weatherization program” and then close it, according to the letter.

Clausi allegedly yelled and cursed at Bollinger, an intake specialist, and McAndrew, an energy auditor, on Jan. 21, asking why they hadn’t helped Musso.

Visits on Jan. 22 and Jan. 23 by weatherization employees to Musso’s home resulted in a rejection of her application because her first floor was 74 degrees and her bathroom was 72 degrees.

To qualify, a person must be completely without heat.

A Jan. 22 meeting, which Clausi scheduled but did not attend, was attended by Shoch at request of the weatherization employees. Shoch reiterated the letter’s message.

Picarelli responded to the department complaint on Feb. 6, saying that Clausi, who denies the allegations, will no longer have any contact with the department employees. Instead, he will direct all citizen complaints about weatherization to the chief clerk.

Clausi said he takes a “hands-on approach” to the county. Musso, who according to Clausi has not had heat in her bathroom since September and earns $640 a month, told Clausi the weatherization department was aware of her situation since September.

The departments had no answers as to why they didn’t help her, he said.

“The weatherization program went out and attempted to repair the issue however they claim that there was a blockage that is keeping her bathroom from obtaining heat,” he said.

Clausi said he used his own money and construction company to install a new electric heater in her bathroom.

In September, Clausi asked for an outside investigation into Scicchitano’s claims that Clausi was involved in a misuse of state Department of Community and Economic Development funds in the Weatherization Department. On Monday, Heidi Havens, DCED spokeswoman said, “A review of the financial information along with the substantiating paperwork was received and did not result in any significant findings.”

Sources who wish to remain anonymous say the attorney general’s office was also called to investigate the matter of Clausi allegedly asking for heating assistance for friends and family.

At a Sept. 16 public meeting, Clausi and Commissioner Stephen Bridy voted to place the weatherization department under the control of the planning department. They said the two departments have similar grants.

Other incidents have been alleged, but Scicchitano could not be reached for further comment Monday.

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