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Posted September 4, 2012 | comments Leave a comment

County settles wrongful termination suit

Warren's social services department reaches agreement with ex-investigator

By Joe Beck -- jbeck@nvdaily.com

A lawsuit filed by a former fraud investigator with Warren County's Department of Social Services against the agency and its former director for alleged wrongful termination has been tentatively settled.

County attorney Blair D. Mitchell said Tuesday an agreement was reached last week among attorneys representing the county, former DSS director Ronald L. King and the plaintiff, Judith McClosky. Mitchell said the parties agreed to keep details of the settlement secret, including whether any money changed hands between them.

However, Mitchell said, if any money is part of the settlement, it will be paid out by the county's insurance carrier.

"It will not cost Warren County anything," he said, adding, "beyond that I cannot talk about any of the terms."

McClosky's attorney, Timothy E. Cupp of Harrisonburg, could not be reached for comment.

Mitchell said the attorneys are waiting for Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp to enter an order of dismissal that will officially end the case.

McClosky filed the suit in 2009, almost two years after being fired as a fraud investigator with the Department of Social Services in 2007. She asked for $600,000 in damages as part of her claim of wrongful termination.

The suit accused King of committing acts of discrimination and retaliation, including her firing -- in the aftermath of testimony she gave to a Warren County Circuit Court grand jury in 2007.

The grand jury was probing policies and procedures governing the investigation and prosecution of welfare fraud at the agency. The grand jury began its work shortly after King had begun requiring employees to bring allegations of welfare fraud to him before going to the commonwealth's attorney.

Hupp agreed to let the lawsuit proceed in a ruling two years ago that rejected a motion by the defendants seeking dismissal of the case.

Less than a month later, King announced his resignation and shortly thereafter took a job in Manassas as head of the city's family services agency.

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