Whistleblower received bonus, glowing performance review prior to suspension

Posted at 1:33 PM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-15 18:38:46-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The woman who investigated multiple complaints against the Virginia Parole Board and later sued Virginia's State Inspector General for suspending her from her job released documents she said showed that she was considered a model employee before she was put on leave.

Tim Anderson, the attorney representing Jennifer Moschetti, filed a motion 'to expedite hearing' in Richmond City Circuit Court Monday morning, asking the judge to move quickly to grant her whistleblower status and the protections that come along with it.

Moschetti, a senior investigator with the Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG), unmasked herself last week after she was put on pre-disciplinary leave. Her lawsuit claimed her suspension was unjust, and that it was the result of her reporting alleged misconduct related to investigations concerning the parole board.

Monday's motion, backed up by a copy of a OSIG document, stated Moschetti was given a $2,000 bonus just last month.

A "pay action worksheet" signed by Inspector General Michael Westfall stated the following:

"Jennifer was the lead investigator responsible for the completion and ongoing work in regards to numerous Virginia Parole Board Hotline cases. These cases have required much research, editing, and discussion, in addition to lengthy calls with the Office of the Attorney General. As a result, we would like to award a $2,000 bonus."

The bonus took effect on February 16.

Anderson also released a copy of an internal performance evaluation from October, in which Moschetti was described as a "person of integrity" and a "valued member" of the State Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Hotline team.

That evaluation also referenced Moschetti's work on the parole board cases, saying that she had submitted "comprehensive and exhaustive" reports and that she had "meticulously reviewed and re-reviewed evidence and other documentation to ensure final reports were of the highest quality."

Moschetti admited to anonymously sharing a partial copy of her parole board file with a group of state lawmakers on March 3, but said she has not leaked any of her reports to CBS 6 or other media outlets.

One of those cases focused on the board's decision to release Vincent Lamont Martin, who was serving life in prison for the 1979 murder of Richmond Police Patrolman Michael Connors, before he was set free last year.

Moschetti said her initial report on the board's handling of the Martin case contained, "substantial facts and findings of serious wrongdoing by members of the parole board previously omitted at the direction of the Office of the Attorney General."

That resulted in a shorter, six-page report being submitted to the Office of Governor Ralph Northam in July 2020.

Though missing many of the details from the longer report, that official report found that the parole board and its former chair violated state law and its own policies and procedures in the way it handled the Martin case.

In her lawsuit, Moschetti said that shortly after that report was leaked, she was called to the governor's office, where she said she and Westfall were interrogated by the governor's chief of staff, the Virginia secretary of public safety, and others.

"We went into that meeting thinking that there was bias and there was lack of objectivity," Clark Mercer, chief of staff for Gov. Northam, said during a news conference last week. "We left that meeting knowing that there was bias and a lack of objectivity in that report."

Anderson claimed Mercer's comments regarding the OSIG report maligned Moschetti.

"We are hopeful the Court will grant protected Whistle Blower status to my client as soon as practically possible," said Anderson. "The Governor's office is on notice that if further disparaging and false comments regarding Ms. Moschetti are made by any member of the Administration will trigger further litigation against those making such statements for defamation and slander."

Prior to last week's news conference, Governor Northam had called for an outside investigation into how and why detailed accusations of serious wrongdoing by the former and current parole board chairs were removed from the Martin report before it was sent to his office.