Email shows OSIG shared parole board report with Attorney General's office

Virginia parole board.jpg
Posted at 5:58 AM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-05 12:42:08-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- A draft of a report that was highly critical of the Virginia Parole Board was sent from a state government watchdog to the Virginia Attorney General's Office one month before a shortened, official version of the report was sent to the Office of the Governor, according to emails obtained by CBS 6.

The report, written by Virginia Inspector General Michael Westfall, concerned the board's handling of the release of Vincent Lamont Martin, who had been serving life in prison for the murder of a Richmond police officer before he was set free last year.

The draft version of the OSIG report, which runs more than 13 pages, contained detailed findings of violations the inspector general said were committed by the former and current parole board chairs. But many of those details were removed from the final six-page report sent to Virginia Public Safety Secretary Brian Moran last July.

The longer version of the report is dated June 15, 2020.

An email obtained by CBS 6 showed that the next morning, Deputy Inspector General Corrine Louden sent a copy of that draft report to Senior Assistant Attorney General Michael Jagels. Westfall is also CC'd on that email, in addition to several other OSIG employees.

“OSIG follows its standard administrative investigation process for all Hotline investigations. This includes seeking legal advice when necessary," Kate Hourin, Communications Director for the Office of the State Inspector General, said when asked why the draft report was emailed to the assistant attorney general.

Last Thursday, when asked if the longer version of the report had been sent or shown to anyone outside of the inspector general's office, Hourin would only say that any draft report involving the parole board was released without their consent and that they were "taking appropriate action to identify the person(s) responsible or improperly disclosing such information."

Westfall has since asked for the Virginia State Police to investigate how it was leaked.

CBS 6 reached out to the Office of the Attorney General last Friday, asking if OSIG had at any point shared the longer version of the report with them, and if they were investigating any of the findings, which included violations of state law and the Constitution of Virginia.

In response, Charlotte Gomer, the director of communications for Attorney General Mark Herring, said this was an issue between OSIG and the Parole Board.

"There’s nothing newsworthy, noteworthy, or nefarious about a state agency looping in their lawyer. As the investigating agency, OSIG is ultimately responsible for both the process and final product, and any input from our office to a state agency would just be advice about legal questions and points of law," Gomer said Thursday.

Earlier this week, a spokesperson for Governor Ralph Northam sent CBS 6 a copy ofsworn affidavit, in which Westfall stated that he never shared a copy of the more detailed draft report with the governor's office. Governor Northam has since compelled Westfall to release it to him, and after reviewing it, said he welcomes an outside investigation to determine how and why the specific allegations of wrongdoing were not included in the final report.