State investigator who looked into Va. Parole Board fired after seeking whistleblower status, attorney says

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The state investigator who played a key role in the probe into complaints brought against the Virginia Parole Board and hoped to be granted whistleblower protection status after reporting alleged violations was fired Monday, according to her attorney.

Jennifer Moschetti, a senior investigator in the Office of the State Inspector General, was terminated weeks after she filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the state’s inspector general, Michael Westfall, claiming misconduct in the state’s parole board investigation. Moschetti’s attorney, Tim Anderson, wrote in a press release that they are reviewing legal remedies in the wake of her firing.

“As of today, the only government employee receiving any consequences in the parole board investigation is now the investigator herself,” Tim Anderson, Moschetti’s attorney, wrote in a press release. “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, a Virginia Beach attorney who is seeking a GOP House of Delegates run, filed a motion for an expedited hearing in Richmond Circuit Court following remarks made by Clark Mercer, Gov. Ralph Northam’s chief of staff, during a coronavirus press conference on March 9. 

Mercer said state officials and the parole board believed OSIG investigators were biased and called for a meeting to discuss the final report that stated the board failed to adhere to its own policy and violated state law.

“We went into that meeting thinking there was bias and lack of objectivity,” Mercer said as he recalled the meeting. “We left that meeting knowing that there was bias and lack of objectivity in that report.”

The whistleblower lawsuit filed by Moschetti disclosed she was the investigator behind the previously unseen draft report into the parole of Vincent Martin, who was convicted of killing a Richmond police officer in 1979, that drew heavy criticism after it was leaked in February.

Moschetti denies sharing any of her work on the investigation with the media or lawmakers last month, but the lawsuit said her fears of being “used as a scapegoat” compelled her to seek protections under the Virginia Whistle Blower Act. 

On March 3, Moschetti anonymously provided a partial copy of her work to the leadership in the Virginia General Assembly. The lawsuit states Moschetti worked with federal authorities investigating complaints against the parole board and reported alleged misconduct by Westfall for failing to publish the additional violations in the draft report to lawmakers. 

Two days later, two OSIG employees visited Moschetti at home to give her a letter informing her she was being put on paid leave pending an investigation, the suit alleges.

The Office of the Inspector General has declined to comment on the litigation or claims from Moschetti but a spokeswoman shared the following statement Monday.

“The Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) models integrity, trust and ethical behavior and demonstrates the highest standards of honesty, respect and accountability,” Kate Hourin, OSIG’s director of communications, wrote in an email. “For privacy reasons, OSIG cannot comment on personnel matters.”

This story is developing. Stay with 8News for updates.

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