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Whistleblower revealed: Lawsuit filed in Virginia Parole Board investigation

Posted at 6:17 PM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 17:25:01-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- An employee of the Virginia Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) unmasked herself as a whistleblower Monday.

Jennifer Moschetti, a senior OSIG investigator, filed a lawsuit against her boss, claiming she has been unjustly suspended from her job for reporting alleged misconduct related to investigations concerning the Virginia Parole Board.

Her attorney, Timothy Anderson, filed the suit in Richmond City Circuit Court Monday.

"Two law enforcement officers from the Inspector General's office showed up at her home on Friday afternoon and gave her a letter saying she was suspended," Anderson said. "She's not allowed to work or email her associates - she's now sitting there pending an investigation of alleged misconduct."

The suit asked a judge to order Inspector General Michael Westfall "to cease and desist in threats and harassment, publicly and privately, of retaliation for Petitioner’s lawful disclosure to Federal Law Enforcement and the leadership of the General Assembly."

"I can tell you my client is not only worried about her job, but also her own safety," said Anderson. "The inspector general took a step of punishing her for cooperating with members of law enforcement and members of the General Assembly."

The specific federal agency was not named, though the lawsuit indicated Moschetti was contacted by them and asked to cooperate with a federal investigation into the parole board's actions.

A spokesperson for OSIG tells CBS 6 they have no comment on the lawsuit.

Moschetti anonymously identified herself to state lawmakers last Wednesday, Anderson said, sharing a partial copy of her file concerning the parole board investigations.

Two days later, she received a letter from Deputy Inspector General Corrine Louden, that read she was being placed on pre-disciplinary leave with pay, pending an investigation into alleged misconduct.

"It wasn't hard for them to figure who was behind this, because she was the chief investigator of all these parole board violations," said Anderson.

But the lawsuit claims that Moschetti has not leaked any of her reports to CBS 6 or other media outlets.

That includes a 14-page version of the report concerning the parole board's release of Vincent Martin, who was set free last year after he was supposed to serve life in prison for the murder of a Richmond Police Officer.

"That is the definition of irony," Anderson continued. "The agency that exists in state government to protect employees from retaliation from their employers by providing an anonymous form of communication: that agency is now putting the hammer down on their own employee for cooperating with the appropriate authorities. She's not the one who gave it to the media."

CBS 6 asked the Governor Ralph Northam about why Moschetti was suspended. "I'm not aware of the individual relieved of duty, that's something within that agency that occurred but again, we need to do the investigation," he said.

CBS 6 also asked Northam if he stood by the current board. “Well, the board as I said, I stand by the support of parole," Northam said. "It's an important part of criminal justice reform. As far as what's going on with the past parole board and OSIG, again, I'd like to see an investigation."

CBS 6 previously reported OSIG found fault with the way the parole board handled Martin's release and the releases of more than a half dozen other inmates.

In her lawsuit, Moschetti stated she "reported alleged misconduct of the Office of the Attorney General."

She claimed they were responsible for redacting "substantial sustained facts and circumstances" of the Martin report.

She said that effectively concealed the findings of the inspector general.

"OAG did not shorten the report," said Charlotte Gomer, director of communications for Attorney General Mark Herring. "Any decisions about what would be addressed in the report, including whether criminal allegations were proper in an administrative report, were made by OSIG and we would be happy for the client agency to be fully transparent about its process, including clarifying any input it had received from this office."

Moschetti said she and Westfall were interrogated by members of the executive branch, to include Public Safety Secretary Brian Moran and Northam's Chief of Staff Clarke Mercer, after an unredacted copy of the final Martin report was leaked to the media last year.

She claims that following that meeting, Westfall told her that he might lose his job over the Martin report -- which instantly put her in fear of losing her job.

After CBS 6 obtained and reported on a draft report of the Martin investigation, one that was more than 13 pages long, Westfall asked Virginia State Police to investigate how it was released.

Moschetti said that's when she feared she'd be made a scapegoat.

Moschetti is seeking protection, under the Virginia Whistle Blower Act, and asking the judge to compel Westfall to immediately reinstate her.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have asked for an independent investigation into the accusations swirling around the parole board and the OSIG reports.

"The executive branch which includes the governor, attorney general and inspector general, they're not able to do this investigation properly at this point," said Anderson. "There are too many people implicated in potential wrongdoing here. The general assembly needs to do it. The legislative branch needs to independently evaluate the actions of not just the parole board but all of those after these reports started being circulated."

The CBS 6 Crime Insider has obtained a copy of the lawsuit.