The Virginia Parole Board paroled Hugh Brown last March after first telling his murder victim’s family that his request for parole had been denied, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch. The newspaper obtained emails showing that then-Chair Adrianne Bennett had specifically asked that automated emails to the victim’s family be blocked as the board reconsidered the decision to parole Brown.
The reporting is the latest in a string of allegations concerning mishandled victim notifications at the Virginia Parole Board. After questions arose about victim notification in the parole hearing of Vincent Martin, a 2020 investigation found that Bennett asked staff to falsify records and advocated for Martin’s release.
As more details surfaced in 2021, investigator Jennifer Moschetti approached the General Assembly asking for protected whistleblower status. Shortly afterward, she was placed on leave. She then sued the State Inspector General, alleging that she was being retaliated against for following legal whistleblower procedures. Now, her lawyer Tim Anderson is seeking an expedited hearing after Governor Ralph Northam’s Chief of Staff Clark Mercer said the investigation was biased and attacked, citing his history with lawsuits against Democratic politicians.
“[Mercer] at the Governor’s Press Conference on COVID updates on March 9, 2021 attacked the character of my [client], the Petitioner, as biased while hailing the parole board as brave,” Anderson wrote in the motion for expedited hearing. “The Governor is using its bully pulpit to malign the Petitioner and publicly discredit her work which is directly contradicted by the attached reports.”
The motion cites a $2,000 bonus granted Moschetti in February and positive workplace reviews as evidence that Moschetti was not biased. It also suggests that Moschetti has more parole board evidence to share with authorities, but is afraid of retaliation.
“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,” Anderson told WTVR.
In a Facebook post, Anderson said, “The attacks on my client must stop. I cannot believe we have to give a cease and desist warning to the Governor of Virginia.”
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