Last week, when the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform held a hearing into the politicization of the Department of Justice’s quarter of a billion dollar grant program, one DOJ official, Michelle DeKonty, refused to testify, citing her Fifth amendment rights. Today, she was fired:
A Department of Justice official was fired yesterday after refusing to testify at a Congressional hearing regarding whether or not her office awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in grants based on political favoritism and personal connections.
Michele DeKonty, Chief of Staff for the DOJ’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Administrator, cited the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, and declined to appear at the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing last week.
DeKonty’s departure also comes on the heels of a Justice Department probe into alleged irregular contracting practices within its own ranks according to a federal law enforcement official close to the investigation.
Questions about the agency’s awarding of grants were raised earlier this month by ABC News on Nightline. (click here to watch the report)
OJJDP staff members were notified of DeKonty’s departure this morning in an email from the office’s administrator, J. Robert Flores, who is also under investigation by the DOJ’s Inspector General. That investigation probes Flores’ hiring of a Honduran Colonel as a contractor on faith-based issues and his alleged golfing during conferences on taxpayer-funded business trips, according to a staff member who was contacted by the OIG.
In the email Flores said, “Over the past 2 years I have had the benefit of working with a talented and professional Chief of Staff in Michele DeKonty. Yesterday, ended her tenure with our Office.”