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Gianato abruptly retires after years of responding to state emergencies

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Former longtime state Homeland Security and Emergency Services chief Jimmy Gianato has retired–effectively immediately.

Jimmy Gianato

Gianato lost his title last year. Shortly after that, a legislative audit revealed that Gianato had not told his supervisors that West Virginia faced federal scrutiny over its lack of oversight of grant money passed along to smaller communities..

He retained the title of homeland security adviser.

No explanation was given for his retirement. He made the announcement in an email to staff members Friday. He said one of the best things about working with agency was being able to provide hope to people who had suffered through tragedy.

The retirement came on the same day as three current and former city officials with Richwood were arrested for allegedly misusing federal flood recovery money and an audit report from state Auditor J.B. McCuskey detailing the alleged misuse.

Richwood Council met in emergency session Friday night and fired Police Chief Allen Cogar. He was one of the city officials charged Friday. Council also voted to ask Mayor Chris Drennen to resign.

As part the December reshuffling, Gianato’s deputy, Michael Todorovich, took his place as the head of the agency.

Gianato started as director of West Virginia’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management in 2005, early in the administration of former Gov. Joe Manchin.

He stayed on through the Tomblin administration and the early part of the Justice administration, despite being associated with a series of controversies.

In 2012, Gianato was at the center of controversy over the state’s purchase of $24 million in internet routers, outside normal bidding procedures.

The same year, reporters revealed that Gianato’s son was being paid for work out of a $126.3 million federal stimulus grant that Gianato was overseeing.

Last year, a state legislative audit concluded the Homeland Security agency could not locate $254,000 in trailers and other equipment.

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