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EXCLUSIVE INVESTIGATION: 'Terminated' City Employee Given New, Higher-Paying Job at Same Office
COLUMBUS (Chris Vanocur) -- ABC 6 News is asking some tough questions about the Franklin County Auditor's Office. Specifically, why a former employee would be given a six figure consulting contract just months after leaving that office.
Jerzell Pierre-Louis worked for the Franklin County Auditor for more than three years, much of that time as the auditor's chief of staff.
But in a Jan. 28 staff memo, Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo stated, "I write to announce with deep regrets that Jerzell Pierre-Louis is no longer serving as our chief of staff."
Her employment ended March 1. Her salary, according to documents given to ABC 6 News, was just under $100, 000 dollars a year.
However, on June 14, just months after she left the County Auditor's office, Pierre-Louis signed a consulting contract with that very same office.
The six-month contract called for her to be paid $135,000 dollars.
The contract also states that Pierre-Louis will not make any disparaging comments "in connection with her former employment with the Auditor's office."
After promising to arrange an interview time with ABC 6, Mingo's Director of Communications abruptly said the auditor was now declining an on-camera interview.
When asked why, she said the auditor "just decided to decline."
The auditor did, however, respond to nearly a half dozen questions in writing.
"Following a discussion with Jerzell regarding her duties in the auditor's office we came to a mutual decision to change her role," Mingo wrote. "Subsequently she was replaced as chief of staff."
But when ABC 6 contacted the attorney for Pierre-Louis, he told us he and his client believed there was a termination."
Her attorney also confirmed that he had threatened to sue.
A new wrinkle, one that may be a key to this story.
A source familiar with Pierre-Louis' departure told ABC 6 that the former chief of staff's attorney sent a letter to the county auditor.
ABC 6 filed several Freedom of Information requests for the letter, but has not yet received a copy.
Pierre-Louis and her attorney, in addition to Mingo, have declined the opportunity to speak on camera.
There is nothing more to accomplish through an on camera interview," Mingo wrote.