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DOJ won't take on PSU whistleblower suit for now

Plus: Fall festival season is upon us!

This is Talk of the Town, a free weekly newsletter delivering top news from State College and the surrounding region.

October 5, 2023
Inside this edition: U.S. Justice Department won’t intervene in Penn State whistleblower lawsuit for now, top Shapiro staffer accused of sexual harassment, and fall festival season is in full swing 🍁
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The U.S. Justice Department has declined to intervene in a “whistleblower lawsuit that alleged Penn State mishandled sensitive government information,” the Centre Daily Times reports.

The university is accused by a former employee in the lawsuit of lying about its compliance with the government’s “cybersecurity protocols,” CDT reporter Bret Pallotto reports.

The Justice Department’s investigation into the allegations continues, Pallotto writes, but investigators need more time to determine whether they will intervene.

Penn State “remains committed to its compliance obligations and will continue to cooperate with the government in its ongoing investigation,” university spokesperson Lisa Powers wrote in an email to the CDT on Monday.

Marc Raspanti, a lawyer with experience litigating whistleblower lawsuits, told the CDT that it is not unusual that the Justice Department decided not to intervene. But he did find it unusual that the federal judge in the case only gave the department about a year to decide if it would step in.

“In my world, this is a fairly short period of time. Sometimes the government in these complicated cases can take years to make that decision,” Raspanti told the CDT. “The statute says they get 60 days, but that 60 days is routinely extended.”

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» STORY FEST: Spotlight PA is participating in Philly Story Fest, a first-of-its-kind festival that brings together storytellers from across the city on one stage. Join us TONIGHT from 7-10 p.m. at the Bok building in South Philadelphia (1901 South 9th St.). Tickets are $25 and available here.

» PATH TO EQUITY: Join Spotlight PA for its first in-person summit on Wednesday, Oct. 11, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg. Spotlight PA is co-presenting this event with Color & Culture, a Pennsylvania marketing firm. Tickets are now on sale at this link until sold out.

» ELECTION 101: Join Spotlight PA’s government reporters Kate Huangpu and Stephen Caruso on Thursday, Oct. 12 from 6-7 p.m. ET on Zoom for a free panel on Pa.’s 2023 judicial candidates. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org
Daniel Fishel / For Spotlight PA
At Spotlight PA, we put voters front and center in our nonpartisan election coverage. Get all the information you need to make an informed vote this September by visiting our Election Center website
Whipple Dam State Park in Huntingdon County via Amy Z.

Want to be featured here? Send your best local pics to talkofthetown@spotlightpa.org.
» CDT: Bail set at $3M for PSU student charged in deadly car crash
» Mirror: Martinsburg water suit slated for transfer to South Carolina
» Sun-Gazette: Williamsport council delays vote to sell City Hall
» WPSU: Centre addiction treatment providers struggle to keep staff

» CDT: Centre County woman missing for a decade declared legally dead
» SC: Alpha’s first all-woman crew battles fire
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» Oct. 6-7: The Arboretum at Penn State, in Centre County, hosts its annual pumpkin festival featuring jack-o’-lantern displays, hot chocolate, and live entertainment.

» Oct. 7: Enjoy barbecue chicken, a petting zoo, and a pumpkin contest at the Potter County Fair Fall Festival.

» Oct. 7-8: Nittany Ballet presents Dracula at The State Theatre in State College, Centre County.

» Oct. 7-8: Antiques, vendors, ham pot pie, and more highlight the Dutch Fall Festival in Aaronsburg, Centre County.

» Oct. 7-8: More than 900 pumpkins will be on display at the Pumpkin Walk & Fall Festival in Kane, McKean County.
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