Attorney: Investigator in Virginia Parole Board probe fired
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A state investigator working on a probe that found violations of policy and law by the Virginia Parole Board was fired Monday, according to her attorney, who said his client is now exploring “legal remedies.”
The Office of the State Inspector General, the state’s government watchdog agency, terminated Jennifer Moschetti from her position as a senior investigator, her attorney, Tim Anderson, wrote in an email.
The development is the latest in a controversy that began with consternation over a handful of parole decisions last spring and has continually escalated into a complicated, bitter dispute involving a whistleblower lawsuit recently filed by Moschetti.
“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,” Anderson said.
According to the lawsuit Moschetti filed earlier this month against her boss, Inspector General Michael Westfall, she had a central role in the investigation of the parole board, which so far had turned up numerous problems in how the board handled prosecutor and victim notification.
Moschetti recently approached state legislators to report alleged misconduct in the handling of the investigation, according to her lawsuit, which had not yet been heard in court.
Anderson wrote that he would withdraw that lawsuit and Moschetti would begin “exploring the legal remedies she now has for wrongful employment termination and intentional injuries to her reputation.”
Anderson, who is a Republican legal activist now running for a seat in the House of Delegates, said neither he nor Moschetti had any further comment.
A spokeswoman for Westfall’s office said that for privacy reasons, she couldn’t comment.
Moschetti had already been placed on “pre-disciplinary leave,” according to her lawsuit, which alleged Westfall suspended her “in an effort to insulate his own position as State Inspector General.”
Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s chief of staff, Clark Mercer, recently criticized the watchdog agency’s work on the matter, calling a report that Moschetti handled into the release of a man convicted of killing a Richmond police officer “biased.”
In response, Anderson provided reporters with copies of what he said was Moschetti’s most recent performance evaluation.
The evaluation praised her work, calling her “detail-oriented” and “clearly a person of integrity.” It said she “maintains the highest level of confidentiality and is consistently fair and balanced.”
Anderson also provided a document showing Moschetti was awarded a $2,000 bonus for her work on the parole board matters.
Kate Hourin, the spokeswoman for the Office of the State Inspector General, also declined comment on those documents.