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Lawyer: State investigator behind parole board report fired

Posted at 5:30 PM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-23 06:18:55-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The lawyer representing Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) investigator Jennifer Moschetti said Moschetti was fired from her job.

The request for an expedited whistleblower protection hearing was dropped Monday afternoon after the Moschetti's attorney, Tim Anderson, was informed she was terminated.

The request had been filed more than two weeks ago.

Anderson says he had not heard anything from the court, even after his client provided evidence that seemed to show she was considered a model employee and valued member of OSIG.

Documents show she was given a bonus shortly before being suspended, and a performance review that showed she received accolades for her work investigating complaints against the Virginia Parole Board.

Now, Anderson says they will explore a wrongful termination lawsuit against the state.

Moschetti was looking into decisions made by the Virginia Parole Board. She had been suspended after she came forward to report the board's alleged misconduct to state lawmakers.

Moschetti was the chief investigator into complaints related to how the parole board handled the release of several inmates last year, including the release of Vincent Martin.

Martin had been serving a life sentence for the 1979 murder of a Richmond Police officer.

Moschetti said some of her findings of wrongdoing were removed from the version of at least one report sent to the governor's office.

Earlier this month, Gov. Ralph Northam’s Chief of Staff Clark Mercer said that he thought the official OSIG report Moschetti prepared was biased.

Mercer also mentioned Moschetti's lawyer, and said he suspected much of this controversy was politically motivated.

Anderson retorted that Mercer's comments meant he was doing something right.

"The one person now who's suffered the worst consequences is the whistleblower, even if the whistleblower was biased, as the administration argued, and even if the whistleblower violated state law,” said CBS 6 Political Analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth. “They have paid an even greater price than those who were involved with making decisions without giving proper notification to the victims."

Holsworth said Moschetti’s firing Monday looks bad on multiple fronts.

"The governor has said on many occasions that he believes in second chances,” Holsworth said. “You would think the administration has the responsibility to answer questions about whether the Parole Board acted responsibly and whether the Parole Board violated its own policies."

"Certainly all the evidence that has been put forward to date, because we haven't seen any counter from the administration, all the evidence suggests prosecutors and victims were not given proper notification," Holsworth continued. "We even have an instance where a board member changed their vote citing new information, but admitted the chair never provided that information."

In a statement to CBS 6, OSIG spokeswoman, Katharine Hourin, said:

“The Office of the State Inspector General models integrity, trust and ethical behavior and demonstrates the highest standards of honesty, respect and accountability. For privacy reasons, OSIG cannot comment on personnel matters.”

Holsworth said with Monday's firing, the turmoil will get worse and that kicking the can down the road doesn't do much for a simple question that needs an answer: "Did the parole board do its job responsibly?” Holsworth asked.

“If it did, say so. But if it didn't, it's the responsibility of the governor's office to do something and not just call for an independent investigation," Holsworth continued.

As for the independent investigation, there is still no word on when it will begin, or who will lead it.

Holsworth said the Parole Board issue could play a role in the upcoming gubernatorial race.