First Whistleblower Trial of Several to Come Involving DC Fire Dep't Brass
This coming Tuesday, May 29, former DC Fire & Emergency Medical Services (FEMS) department General Counsel and whistleblower Theresa Cusick will finally get her day in court.
Cusick served as FEMS General Counsel until 2007, when she informed an Assistant US Attorney that a FEMS officer – who the attorney had been working with – was under investigation by the Washington, DC Office of Inspector General (DC OIG) for his alleged involvement in a cheating scandal at the FEMS Training Academy. Cusick raised concerns that neither FEMS nor the Office of the US Attorney should rely on the officer until he was cleared of any involvement.
Cusick also blew the whistle in 2007 to the DC OIG that then-Assistant DC Fire Chief Brian Lee ordered her not to communicate with either the DC OIG or the DC Office of the Attorney General (OAG), and attempted to cover up the fact that a fire investigator was being investigated by DC OIG.
After reporting Lee's actions to DC OIG, OAG and DC Fire Chief Dennis Rubin, Cusick was transferred from her position as General Counsel at the request of Chief Rubin.
GAP has represented Cusick since 2009. In 2008, Cusick filed suit under the DC Whistleblower Protection Act (DCWPA) for reinstatement and damages. District attorneys sought dismissal of the case based on a section of the law that had since been overturned, but in August 2010 a judge ruled the case could continue.
GAP Legal Director for Litigation Richard Condit, who serves as counsel to Cusick, stated: “It is unfortunate that the District government and taxpayers have been deprived of Ms. Cusick’s expertise and integrity. We hope that she will have a chance to return and serve the District as a senior attorney.”
GAP released a video in late 2009 revealing questionable statements made by Chief Rubin during a deposition into the case, including referring to speaking with Cusick as “a woman barking at me,” and using excessive profanity. You can find the video here.
Cusick's trial is set to start at 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday at the District of Columbia Superior Court.
Hannah Johnson is Communications Associate for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.