Cynthia McAlister is back as Purcellville's chief of police - sort of.

The town on Wednesday reinstated McAlister as chief, but she remains on paid administration leave pending an audit of the previous investigation that led to her firing on Nov. 2.

McAlister is currently receiving back pay for the weeks since her termination, according to her attorney, John V. Berry of Reston.

"We are very pleased with the town's decision and will work with them through the audit process," Berry said. "Chief McAlister is pleased with this decision."

The reinstatement comes amid one of the most tumultuous periods in the Town of Purcellville's history.

McAlister was fired following a heavily questioned investigation that claimed the chief acted outside the scope of her duties and ran afoul of town policies and procedures. That investigation - which was allegedly sparked by complaints from members of the Purcellville Police Department command staff - was conducted by a private human resources investigator, Georgia Nuckolls.

On Sunday, Purcellville town officials revealed Nuckolls had numerous criminal convictions in the 1990s and was also carrying on a relationship with a town employee involved in the investigation against McAlister. Nuckolls' convictions in North Carolina in 1997 included felony financial card fraud, felony financial card theft, forgery of instrument and common law forgery.

Interim Town Manager Alex Vanegas was the acting interim town manager who hired Nuckolls for the investigation. He was placed on leave Monday. The town is in the process of retaining an independent investigator to conduct an audit and investigation of actions taken by Vanegas over the last several months.

The town is also in the process of bringing in a new manager to handle day-to-day operations.

"Until we have this individual on board, Hooper McCann, in her role as director of administration, will have the full authority to conduct town business in the capacity of an Interim Town Manager," Mayor Kwasi Fraser said in a prepared statement Tuesday.

Purcellville has been awash with alleged mismanagement and high-level departures in 2017.

Former Town Manager Rob Lohr resigned in June - many observers have suggested he was forced out by council - and Assistant Town Manager Danny Davis left his post Sept. 30 to become president of Tribute Assisted Living in Ashburn. Daniel Galindo resigned as the town's senior planner to work with Loudoun County's Planning and Zoning Department in June.

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