A federal district court is now handling the civil lawsuit brought by town treasurer Joseph Caruso against the town of Bridgewater and its Board of Selectmen.

"The town had the suit removed to (U.S. District Court) in Connecticut," Daniel Casagrande, Mr. Caruso's attorney, said last week. "The defendants can do that when the suit alleges violation of the plaintiff's civil rights."

"I'm expecting an answer on the complaint from the town...," he said.

The alleged civil rights violation relates to the third count of Mr. Caruso's lawsuit, which claims there had been a "violation of plaintiff's due process rights."

Mr. Casagrande said he did not know if the lawsuit had anything to do with the search warrant issued by Judge William Garfinkel in July executed July 11 during an FBI raid of Bridgewater Town Hall.

"It's not that I don't want to say," Mr. Casagrande said. "It's just that I don't know."

U.S. District Court Judge Alfred V. Covello in New Haven is now considering the defense petition for removal of Mr. Caruso's complaint, which was filed July 16 in federal court.

Attorney David S. Monastersky, appointed by the town's insurance agency, has petitioned for removal of the suit based on the federal Civil Rights Act, according to court documents.

Mr. Caruso filed his lawsuit at state Superior Court in Litchfield at the end of June, demanding to be paid a salary of $31,500 based on the town's 2011-12 budget.

He had been elected the town treasurer in last November's election.

In December, however, the Board of Selectmen reduced the treasurer's salary to $11,802 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012.

The suit claims, since Mr. Caruso was not notified of the planned reduction in his approved salary, he did not have the opportunity to go before the selectmen or a town meeting for a hearing on the reduction. Therefore, his right to due process had been violated, the suit claims.

First Selectman Bill Stuart said in July "just like a lot of other line items in our budget, that figure represented two salaries being paid out of one line item."

The other salary was for Kim Barron, who serves as the town's financial administrator, Mr. Stuart said.

stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322