The lawyer representing 17 of the 44 state employees accused of fraud for obtaining food stamp benefits, sued the state Thursday saying the governor’s administration unconstitutionally forbid Department of Social Services workers from speaking to him.

In a press release, Rich Rochlin said he filed the suit on behalf of Lisa Prout, one of the employees being investigated.

“We were compelled to file suit when last week, Brenda Parrella, an attorney for DSS, sent the attached memorandum to all DSS employees wherein she ordered them not to speak to me about this investigation,” he said.

Rochlin said the memo incorrectly alleges that contact with him violates professional conduct rules. That flies in the face of decades of legal precedent, he said. It also contradicts Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s promise to run a transparent state government, he said.
“The governor’s administration, faced with continued criticism about the way DSS handled the D-SNAP program, has resorted to issuing unconstitutional scare tactics to keep us from uncovering the truth,” he said. “We will not be intimidated and will ask a court to put an end to this star chamber of secrecy.”

Susan Kinsman, the Attorney General George Jepsen’s spokeswoman, said his office has not received the complaint yet but will review it when they do.

Rochlin said he will be holding a 2 p.m. press conference at his East Berlin office to discuss the matter.