The Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) fired senior investigator Jennifer Moschetti on Monday. Moschetti had investigated and helped write a report detailing violations committed by the Virginia Parole Board. Moschetti had sought formal recognition as a whistleblower from the General Assembly, but when she was placed on leave from her OSIG job, she sued to keep herself from being fired.
“A whistleblower action was filed in Richmond Circuit Court with the specific purpose to stop termination from occurring,” Moschetti’s lawyer Tim Anderson said in a press release. “Ms. Moschetti was not able to obtain a hearing prior to her termination of her employment so therefore I have been directed to nonsuit the mandamus action.”
OSIG did not comment on the reason for Moschetti’s termination. “The Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) 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,” OSIG Communications Director Kate Hourin said.
However, the timing suggests a likely link between the VPB report and Moschetti’s termination.
Multiple drafts of the VPB report have been leaked to the media; Inspector General Michael Westfall said state police would investigate the leaks. Moschetti said she did not leak any information to the press, but she sought protection as a whistleblower. Days after seeking whistleblower status, she was placed on leave, leading to her lawsuit.
Moschetti’s termination is another step in Virginia official’s discrediting Moschetti. In a press conference after the suit was announced, Governor Ralph Northam’s Chief of Staff Clark Mercer criticized the VPB report, saying it focused more on the decision to release Vincent Martin than on the violation of victim notification procedures.
“It is one of, if not the, most high-profile parole decisions in the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It was a great and bold decision by the parole board and one that we stand by strongly,” Mercer said. “There’s substantial commentary on the kind of individual that Mr. Martin is that has nothing to do with the parole process that they were supposed to look at.”
The report details alleged misconduct including failure to follow victim notification procedures and subsequent cover-ups; Republicans say the parole board should be fired. Northam is calling for a new, independent investigation.
This is such a sad reflection of Virginia’s current state leadership in Richmond,” attorney general candidate Leslie Haley said Tuesday. “The lack of integrity is astounding as they have failed for over a year now to initiate full investigations into the numerous allegations about the actions of the Parole Board, and yet fired the whistleblower who had the fortitude to stand up to tell the truth. It’s beyond shameful – they all need to go!”
Anderson said Moschetti is considering other legal options.”Ms. Moschetti will begin now the process of exploring the legal remedies she now has for wrongful employment termination and intentional injuries to her reputation.”
He said, “As of today, the only government employee receiving any consequences in the parole board investigation is now the investigator herself. This is a very dark day in Virginia and no stone will be left unturned as Ms. Moschetti avails herself of every remedy available at law.”
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