Richmond, VA – The investigator for the Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) who discovered the Virginia Parole Board had violated the law in releasing at least nine convicted killers was fired as she awaited “whistleblower” protection from the court.
Jennifer Moschetti, a senior investigator OSIG, sought whistleblower protection after she allegedly shared the findings of her investigation with member of the General Assembly, the Virginia Mercury reported.
Moschetti’s attorney, Tim Anderson, said his client was waiting for a hearing on her whistleblower status in the Richmond Circuit Court and had filed a motion to keep the agency from firing her after she was placed on paid leave on March 5.
Anderson said that her termination makes Moschetti’s pending lawsuit moot and said they would explore other legal remedies, the Virginia Mercury reported.
“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,” the attorney told the newspaper in an email.
Moschetti’s investigation of the Virginia Parole Board found a pattern of violations in 2020 including the board failing to notify prosecutors and victims’ families in a timely manner so that they could be a part of the review process before a decision was made, the Virginia Mercury reported.
OSIG began investigating after the Virginia Parole Board released a killer who murdered a 23-year-old Richmond police officer during a traffic stop in 1979 without giving anyone a chance to object.
The late Richmond Police Officer Michael P. Connors stopped a car near Linden and Main Streets for traveling the wrong way down a one-way street at about 2:05 a.m. on Nov. 13, 1979, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
Officer Connors, 23, did not know that the occupants of the vehicle had just robbed a 7-Eleven store near Virginia Commonwealth University.
Testimony at trial revealed that when Officer Connors approached the getaway car, then 23-year-old Vincent Lamont Martin got out of the vehicle, The Hill reported.
Officer Connors told Martin to get back in the car, and Martin drew a handgun and shot the police officer in the neck.
Testimony revealed that after the officer fell to the ground, and Martin stood over Officer Connors and shot him in the head four times at close range, according to The Hill.
Martin was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.
But he appealed on a technicality and was granted a new trial, The Hill reported.
The second jury also convicted Martin of capital murder, but they gave him life in prison instead of the death penalty.
Officer Connors’ killer has applied for parole numerous times but the parole board never actually considered giving it to him until recently, according to The Hill.
The Parole Board noted when they turned down Martin’s parole request in 2018 that the inmate had been convicted of additional crimes while he was incarcerated.
In 2019, they denied Martin parole again and said it was too risky to release him because of his violent history and extensive criminal record.
“Your prior failure(s) and/or convictions while under community supervision indicate that you are unlikely to comply with conditions of release,” the document read.
But one year later, on April 10, without giving Officer Connors’ family or the Richmond Police Department the statutory 45 days to deliver victim impact statements or object, the Virginia Parole Board voted by a supermajority to grant parole to the cop killer, The Hill reported.
The recently-release OSIG report said that the cases of Officer Connors’ killer and eight more convicted killers showed a pattern of violations of the law that centered on the parole board releasing the convicted murderers without giving notice to prosecutors or victims’ family members, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
Prosecutors and family members are supposed to be notified and given time to object to the parole of a convicted person.
OSIG didn’t investigate whether the murderers in these cases should have been paroled, they just looked at whether the parole board had followed the process as stipulated by Virginia law, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
“It appears that neither the rules nor the law were followed,” Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Phil Ferguson said.
Ferguson prosecuted or oversaw the prosecution of three of the convicted killers the Virginia Parole Board released in a two-week space in April of 2020, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
“The three cases in Suffolk were among the worst people I’ve prosecuted in my many years as a prosecutor,” he said. “The crimes were committed by people that maybe should have spent the rest of their life in prison.”
The initial OSIG report on the release of Officer Connors’ murderer was not release to the media until Republican General Assembly leaders shared an unredacted copy earlier this month, the Virginia Mercury reported.
Another batch of investigative reports were also heavily redacted and thus far, OSIG has refused to provide the full version to state lawmakers.
The documents allegedly leaked by Moschetti included details about the extent of the violations formally substantiated by OSIG in 2020, the Virginia Mercury reported.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s office has pushed back against those reports and defended the parole board, claiming the watchdog reports have been politically-motivated.
Northam officials said the leaks from the OSIG investigation could have a chilling effect on future witnesses, the Virginia Mercury reported.
But Anderson said Moschetti is the kind of person the whistleblower law was created to protect – an employee reporting wrongdoing.
“As of today, the only government employee receiving any consequences in the parole board investigation is now the investigator herself,” her attorney said.