Food Stamp Unemployment Hearing Postponed

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A hearing involving a fired state employee that could have involved testimony from top state officials Tuesday has been postponed.

No new date has been set in the unemployment compensation hearing for a state worker who was fired for allegedly falsifying her level of income in order to receive emergency food benefits under a federal program. As part of the employee\’s defense, attorney Rich Rochlin had levied subpoenas on top state officials, including Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, his chief legal counsel, Andrew McDonald, and his social services commissioner, Roderick Bremby, among others.

Rochlin said that he needed the chance to question Malloy and other top officials in order to gain necessary details about the firing of state employees who received benefits following Tropical Storm Irene. Overall, 27 state employees have been fired. In addition, 10 have retired, and another five have resigned in order to avoid the long process of hearings and arbitration in order to get their jobs back.

McDonald publicly questioned whether Rochlin had any legal or factual basis to question Malloy about the firings. Rochlin, though, continued to press on and began negotiations with the attorney general\’s office – which represents state agencies – about the subpoenas. Those talks are continuing.

“The AG’s office contacted me. We couldn’t come to an agreement,\’\’ Rochlin said Monday. \”They didn’t see the relevance to Malloy and Bremby. They wanted to ask the hearing officer if it was relevant. I think it’s relevant. If the state puts something on, I wanted to have those witnesses available to me. They were trying to work it out with me. Very cordial. Very professional.’’

Since the hearing was postponed, Rochlin will now have to re-issue subpoenas for all of Malloy\’s top officials because the subpoenas were narrowly drawn for a specific hearing in Hartford on Tuesday. The hearing involves a union employee at the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Susan Kinsman, a spokeswoman for the attorney general\’s office, said the state officials who had received the subpoenas had not asked for the postponement.

The hearing could be rescheduled within the next 10 days.

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