A former reporter for the Hartford Courant is suing the statewide newspaper for wrongful termination in this lawsuitfiled Wednesday in Hartford Superior Court.
The lawsuit filed by attorneys of reporter Gary Libow alleges that the newspaper fired him claiming it needed to “fill a quota for reduction in force,” when its voluntary separation package was still pending and accepted by two employees just two days after he was forced to leave.
Libow also claims his termination from the newspaper was connected to his decision to report possible criminal activity he uncovered while investigating a story about a possible police “slush fund.” The last seven stories Libow wrote for the newspaper were related to this matter.
On Feb. 15, 2008, Libow reported a story involving a potential “slush fund” controlled by the Old Saybrook Chief of Police Edward Mosca. The funds were subsequently investigated by the Attorney General’s office. On Feb. 27, 2008, Libow informed his supervisors at the Courant that a police department employee allegedly observed Lt. Michael Spera carrying several garbage bags out the rear door of the police department, around the same time the documents were being gathered for transport to the Attorney General’s office.
“The source expressed concern that Lt. Spera may be involved in the removal or shredding of evidence,” the lawsuit claims. Libow went to his editor, Joe O’Brien, and told him he thought the Attorney General’s office should be informed. O’Brien discussed it with his superior and advised Libow that “Lynne DeLucia decided the newspaper should not get involved with informing the Attorney General.”
Libow concluded it would be “unethical to conspire to suppress information of a possible corruption by the Chief of Police and a Lieutenant in the Old Saybrook Police Department.”
So on Feb. 27, 2008, Libow told Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of the “possible criminal activity connected to the aforesaid destruction of documents.” According to the lawsuit Blumenthal thanked Libow and promised to investigate.
On March 10, 2008, Libow was fired.
The lawsuit filed by Jacques Parenteau of Madsen, Prestley, and Parenteau claims Libow was retaliated against for reporting the suspected violation to the Attorney General.
The Hartford Courant’s corporate relations office said Friday that they do not comment on pending litigation.