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$170K and counting: Purcellville investigations continue to cost taxpayers

The Town of Purcellville has spent more than $170,000 related to the ongoing investigations into the police chief, town management and an audit of the original investigation into the police chief, according to an accounting statement released by the town.

More than $95,000 of those public dollars have gone as payment to employees who are currently on leave, including the Chief of Police Cynthia McAlister, Interim Town Manager Alex Vanegas, Town Attorney Sally Hankins, Human Resources Specialist Sharon Rauch and an unnamed police officer.

The upheaval in Purcellville began amid McAlister's firing in November. McAlister was let go Nov. 2 after a town-funded investigation claimed to substantiate accounts that the police chief abused her powers and failed to adhere to town procedures and policies.

The original investigation into McAlister, the specific details of which have not been disclosed, was conducted by a private human resources investigator, Georgia Nuckolls. The Nuckolls investigation was called into question after the investigator's criminal history, which includes felony fraud and forgery convictions in North Carolina, was revealed by town officials.

Town leaders also stated in a November news release that Nuckolls was having a relationship with a town employee involved in the investigation.

Nuckolls has not responded to numerous requests for comment.

Chief McAlister was re-hired Nov. 24 and placed on leave until the audit of Nuckolls' investigation and additional investigations into town management conclude.

Vanegas, who is now on leave, added to the confusion when he filed a sexual harassment complaint against Hankins, who denies the allegation.

The Wilson Elser law firm, which was brought on by Town Council for up to $80,000 to oversee several investigations into town management, recommended Hankins and Rauch be placed on leave. According to a statement from the town, the move was made to ensure the integrity and complete review of all open concerns and "is not any indication of any offense by either party."

Also listed on the town's summary of investigation-related expenses, which runs through Jan. 25., is (Click here to view the document.):

-$13,125 to Nuckolls' ProHR for the original investigation;

-$26,126 to Ford Harrison LLP for the original investigation;

-$1,920 to Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC for the original investigation;

-$10,000 to Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker for the new investigations;

-$5,285 to Ford Harrison LLP for the new investigations;

-$2,472.85 to Reed Smith LLP for the new investigation;

-$1,830.12 for a Loudoun County attorney; and

-$3,600 to The Casey Group for public information services.


Interim Town Attorney John Anzivino had been paid $10,202.50 as of Jan. 25. Anzivino was hired in mid-December.

While Town Council earlier this month approved a contract with an interim town attorney, Henry Day, at a rate of $350 per hour, Day has yet to be compensated for any work he has done for the town, according to the town's summary of expenses.

On Jan. 19, Mayor Kwasi Fraser released a brief statement saying essentially town officials will no longer comment on the investigations.

β€œTo preserve the independence and integrity of the pending audit and investigation and to preserve and protect the privacy of town personnel and officials, the town will not make any comment regarding matters that may potentially be part of or related to the audit and investigation. We thank you for your patience as we support this process,” Fraser said.

Comments


“We thank you for your patience as we support this process,”  Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!


Curious why a police officer(unnamed) is on paid leave? What about OT for others to take up the slack or are/were they over staffed? Guess all other crimes are put on hold until this is figured out??? Does the investigation include hiring/paying the initial investigator(Nuckholls) since it appeared she won bid without other real bids(and had inside info on what to bid to win)? Will Purcellville have to file bankruptcy after this debacle?

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