Andoh files civil rights lawsuit against South Tahoe

By Kathryn Reed

A civil rights lawsuit has been filed in federal court against South Lake Tahoe, the city police department and Officer Russell Liles.

John Andoh, former transit administrator for South Tahoe Area Transportation Agency, in documents filed Aug. 2 in U.S. District Court in Sacramento alleges he has been racially discriminated against.

John Andoh

John Andoh

According to the city’s website, in 2008 there were 164 black people in town accounting for 0.7 percent of the population.

Andoh at that time would have been one of those black people.

The defendants in the case had not been served as of Aug. 4. City Attorney Pat Enright told Lake Tahoe News on Wednesday night he was not aware of the lawsuit.

A series of events, mostly in 2009, led to Andoh seeking legal counsel and the lawsuit being filed.

It was fairly well known Andoh had a brief relationship with Allyson Ritchie, a subordinate. Ritchie was hired to do clerical work. She is white.

The suit says, “During the relationship, Ms. Ritchie advised plaintiff that she had a brother (Andrew Eissinger) who was a police officer of the city of South Lake Tahoe and that this individual would become enraged should he discover that Ms. Ritchie was involved in an interracial relationship.”

According to the document, the relationship ended in May 2009. When Ritchie’s position was eliminated two months later, the reason given was budget cuts. The document says she disputed that and alleged it had to do with breaking up with Andoh.

Less than a week after Ritchie was let go, Andoh was involved in a vehicle accident with a cyclist. Officer Liles, who was hired as a rookie in summer 2008, took the report.

Soon thereafter an arrest warrant was issued for Andoh for allegedly giving false information to an officer. That charge was eventually dropped, but not before Andoh’s name was muddied in headlines and with his bosses at STATA.

“We are not limited to the theory about the girlfriend and brother. The arrest itself was unfounded,” Jeffrey D. Fulton, Andoh’s attorney, said.

The lawsuit questions why Andoh’s job was eliminated earlier this year.

The four claims in the lawsuit in large part deal with the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and subsequent Civil Rights legislation.

No specific dollar amount is being asked for in the damages. Fulton said his client is willing to let a jury come up with a figure.

A status conference has been scheduled for Oct. 25 in Sacramento.

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Comments (11)
  1. Bob says - Posted: August 5, 2010

    City Attorney Pat Enright sure doesn’t seem to be giving the city good advice. I’m sure he has been consulted on this issue. Why are all of these lawsuits happening against the city? Bad legal advice?

  2. dogwoman says - Posted: August 5, 2010

    I’m sorry, I’m SO sick of people filing lawsuits claiming their “civil rights” have been violated. Suck it up, be a grownup, do a good job, don’t screw around with subordinates, stay sober. Being a “minority” doesn’t give you the right to be stupid.

  3. Meeting attendee says - Posted: August 5, 2010

    Yup. Saw this coming. I don’t blame the man a bit.

  4. Geeper says - Posted: August 5, 2010

    Money for nothing…..Lame!

  5. D says - Posted: August 5, 2010

    Sounds like there may be some checking needed into the actual job Andoh was doing for BlueGo. If he was not an effective employee (he shows lack of good judgement from I have just read) he may have been targeted for those reasons. Why does the “race” card have to be played, just to cover something up and everyone will back off? I agree, lame. More time, money and energy wasted.

  6. tahoeadvocate says - Posted: August 5, 2010

    Sounds like Ms. Ritchie should file suit against Andoh claiming her job was eliminated because she wasn’t dating the boss.

  7. Careaboutthecommunity says - Posted: August 5, 2010

    Peyton Place

  8. doubleblack says - Posted: August 5, 2010

    I hope Kae stays with this story to see how it plays out. Being an ex insider, I believe the city is lucky to have so few lawsuits. Way too much politics in city government.
    Good luck to the incoming city council in straightening out this mess.
    Likewise to the new city manager.

  9. SLT Local says - Posted: August 6, 2010

    Andrew Eissinger is not Ms. Ritchie’s Brother that is her Uncle.

  10. whosedrivingthebus says - Posted: August 6, 2010

    andoh was targeted because he was a narcissist, he was harassing a subordinate and she left him. he fired her immediately after she ended the relationship. too bad for him that her mother and uncles are locals, and employed by the city. he was arrested after dragging trash cans down the middle of the street in the middle of the night. doesn’t anyone remember this? this guy was out of control for months, it just took that long for everyone to figure out that he was a fake and was in way over his head. just because you love buses doesn’t mean that you can manage a bus operation. this isn’t the first time that andoh has had relationships with a subordinate. he just picked the wrong girl to mess with. race has nothing to do with it. try screwing around with any girl who has cops for uncles and see what happens, especially in a small town.

  11. Parker says - Posted: August 6, 2010

    Well whosedrivingthebus,
    While John Andoh seemed flawed to me:
    Obviously did a terrible job w/ BlueGo! Yet refuses to take responsibility and tries to throw everyone else under the bus (so to speak) for the disaster that is BlueGo! Plus, I saw first-hand, where John Andoh couldn’t answer direct questions but still tried to come across as know-it-all, when he in fact had NO IDEA what he was talking about!,
    seems you like know something?

    Makes it sound like you know that the cops did have it out for him? Know matter what John Andoh’s flaws, or if he did engage in improper conduct, the police are not supposed to go after people? They have in this town before. I know that for a fact!! And I know those instances got swept under the rug! Thus whosedrivingthebus, you make it sound like there’s some legitimacy to John Andoh’s accusations?!