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Former District Librarian's Computer Wiped Clean

Sub-Contracted Tech Says No Records Available for Audit or District Attorney

If the District Attorney, the Grand Jury, or the wanted to include information and files off of retired District Librarian Gregg Atkins’ computer for their audits and investigation, they won’t be able to. The computer hard drive has been wiped clean.

After a meeting between Nancy Schrott and DUSD Board of Trustees President Irina Okhremtchouk to detail what was necessary to get ready for the audits, it was discovered that all of the files on Atkin’s computer no longer exist.

“Since we have been investigated by the, and because the Board decided to refer certain things to the District Attorney, and because we are going to conduct an audit and a forensic investigation very soon, I met with Nancy and asked her to preserve the former District Librarian’s computer files,” said Okhremtchouk . “He signed a lot of contracts and did a lot of business with vendors and such, so we have to ensure that these records were available for review.”

At last week’s special meeting, the library’s governing board of trustees approved a contract with Roach Associates Auditors to conduct a full audit of every account at the . They also approved a second contract for a forensic auditing firm and that work was expected to begin immediately.

“It’s not that we needed anything at that point; it was just in case any of us needed it,” Okhremtchouk explained. Her meeting with Schrott lasted two and a half hours to go over things that were needed to do to move forward. Schrott then contacted Lowell Switzer of Switzer Enterprises, their IT contact for the library.  When she learned that there were no electronic records regarding Atkins, she reported to Okhremtchouk who after a couple phone calls back and forth between her and Schrott, then called the company directly to say that it could not be true.

“I told him all we need is access to Atkins files or he could store those records on a hard drive for safe keeping but he said he could not because all the records have been wiped out and I said that can’t be true because we’re a public entity; that there are term limits under the government code and that it is just impossible,” Okhremtchouk  said. “I told him to restore those records and he said he absolutely cannot do that.” She then told him that they could do this quietly or he could receive a subpoena—then I asked him who gave him the directive to wipe the hard drive clean and he said he was directed by the person in charge at the time.”

“My computer has not been wiped clean, “ said Atkins. “When I knew I was leaving the library, I removed any documents that were personal or not relevant to a successor—notes or minutes or whatever--but I left all of the things that a successor would need to use or have available to them left on my hard drive,” he said.

He did however, have Switzer wipe out his email.

“I wiped my email clean because I can,” he said. “To my knowledge, the stuff was not scrubbed if it wasn’t appropriate to be scrubbed. My personal notes or things that weren’t going to be useful or were things we were done with were removed. The law does not require to keep our e-mail unlike some corporate entities because of the FCC. ”

Atkins further explained that there is a shared server and that everyone has their own files on their computers.

“I’m sorry [Switzer] phrased it that way,” said Atkins. “But, if the inference is that in some way I acted to destroy or remove records that should have been records for an audit is plain, outright wrong.”

The investigation is continuing.

“At this point, what we are looking at is to retrieve or salvage anything at all,” Said Okhremtchouk.

“It is more clear than ever that we need a complete investigation into what happened, who did what, and who authorized it,” said Ian Arnold, former Library Commissioner. “At the last library board meeting, we learned that [in the past] there were actions being taken, money was being spent, and policies were being made without either the input from the commissions or the board, so its important in order to restore trust in the community, that we clear the air,” Arnold said.

Ian Arnold July 19, 2012 at 11:20 PM
I think my comment was that actions were being taken, money was being spent and policy decisions were being made with no input from either the commission or the board. On another topic, I believe Mr. Atkins is incorrect in his assertion that his emails could be deleted under some FCC rule. The California Public Records Act (Government Code 6250-6270) is designed to ensure public access to the records of governmental entities with some very limited exceptions. The law clearly defines public records as "any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics." "Writing" is defined to include handwriting, printing, photography, fax and email "and every other means of recording."
Leslie Earl July 20, 2012 at 12:00 AM
It seems that subpoenas are in order, alas. The library is a public entity and the computers, etc., therein are subject to public access, particularly by the library board and legal entities under their direction. This is serious business and I suspect that lawsuits will follow. Whoever instructed the computer to be 'wiped clean' is going to be held responsible and civil actions will follow. This has been a sad time for the library over the past few years and it seems that serious malfeasance is undeniable. I also suspect that a qualified technical person would be able to recover lost data on the computer. Those 'zeros and ones' are still there, just rearranged. The public has not been well served by this 'cover-up' and this only lends unfortunate fuel to the fire that is the past administration of the library's business. I hope that the library board and the wonderful Interim Library Director will be able to act to recover this information as quickly as possible. The public needs to have its belief in the integrity of the library restored; Andrew Carnegie must be whirling in his grave.
Ian Arnold July 20, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Just a thought: I hope the Board President and Interim Library Director are taking the appropriate precautions to ensure the email accounts of the former commissioners and former board members are not also deleted.
Aaron July 20, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Without special software, it's not likely that the hard drive is actually wiped clean. I would suggest the Board contact Dixon PD to have an actual forensic examination done. If DPD doesn't have the geeks on staff to pull this off, they can seek assistance from the Sacramento High Tech Crimes Task Force. They have abilities that will shock folks at Microsoft. If Atkins has done anything illegal, he needs to do some time in the Graybar Hotel. I would also like to take civil action and attach some of his government pension!
Sean Murphy July 20, 2012 at 02:52 PM
well when something like this happens... he/they must be hiding something...... hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm maybe they are hiding money he/they were miss using..... hmmmmmmmm missing money....
Gary Erwin July 21, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Aaron, I agree with you...I know shocking but true.

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