Va. Parole Board whistleblower files lawsuit over firing

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A former state employee who was fired after finding misconduct during an investigation of the Virginia Parole Board has filed a federal lawsuit against her former employer and two top officials of outgoing Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Jennifer Moschetti alleges wrongful termination and defamation in a lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court.

Moschetti said in her complaint that the lawsuit is about protecting whistleblowers.

Moschetti “could never have imagined that … she would become the scapegoat for having shined a light on Board misconduct,” the lawsuit states. “But that’s exactly what happened.”

Moschetti was the lead investigator on at least nine reports in 2020 that found violations of law and policy, including the board freeing felons convicted of murder without first reaching out to victims’ families as required by law. She was fired in March.

In her lawsuit, Moschetti said Westfall supervised and collaborated with her during the investigation. She said Westfall also certified as “substantiated” her findings of violations of policy and law by parole board members related to the panel’s decision to grant parole to eight inmates serving time for convictions of murder.

The suit names the Office of the State Inspector General, Inspector General Michael Westfall, Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran and Northam Chief of Staff Clark Mercer as defendants.

OSIG and the governor’s office did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.

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