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MSP urges return of village hard drives; council could decide

August 22, 2012 - Goodrich-A possible resolution to the confiscated village hard drives and Social Security numbers issue may be on the table.

Larry Dalman, owner of Lansing-based Dalman Investigations has offered to return the village hard drives which were removed in February 2011 after the village council voted to request the resignation of Village Administrator Jakki Sidge. She was also requested to make her computer available to copy the hard drive and ordered to not delete any e-mails. She officially stepped down on Feb. 11.

Following her resignation, the hard drive was removed from her computer upstairs in the village offices. The hard drive was delivered to ACA, 3487 Richfield Road, where the Genesee County Sheriff's Department takes computer equipment for forensic work. ACA had the hard drive and requested the computer tower, which was still at the village office. ACA said it (the hard drive) had been wiped clean. They were not trained to go any further with the investigation.

Dalman said he was contacted by the Michigan State Police recently, who urged him to return the hard drives to the village.

"I'd give them back for the cost of the three hard drives I used to transfer the data on—my cost was about $300," said Dalman. "Also, if the clients, Wartella and McAbee, signed a consent to release me from any wrong doing in returning the hard drives. If that makes the people of Goodrich feel better, I'd do it."

Wartella and McAbee authorized the computer to be sent to Dalman Investigations. The decision to contract with Dalman was made without a village council vote. The report was not released to the public; however, allegedly as many as 19 Social Security numbers of village employees were allegedly included on the computer hard drive which Dalman Investigations had copied on the hard drives.

Over the past 18 months the council grappled with assuring the individuals' security.

Dalman is a retired Michigan State Police detective with 28 years of experience in law enforcement and a forensic computer technician who has investigated more than 100 computer-related crimes for more than 35 different law enforcement agencies.

"We were never told to look for the Social Security numbers," he said. "We're not sure if they are even on the hard drives. For the past 18 months we've had these hard drives, during that time no one has filed a report, no one has reported a dime of security issues as a result of the Social Security numbers. The hard drives requires software with a 64 bit locker to read so they are safe. For that matter, there's nothing to verify I even have the Social Security numbers."

Dalman said he was contacted by the village attorney, the Genesee County Undersheriff Chris Swanson and the attorney general—no criminal action has been pursued.

Village Administrator Jakki Sidge was surprised at the offer from Dalman.

"We have never received a bill for those hard drives or any offer for that matter, said Sidge. "That would be a decision the village council would make—if they received a written document then a decision could be made regarding the hard drives. Keep in mind the council never authorized the purchase of the hard drives or the investigation for that matter."

Sidge questioned if the hard drives were already billed and paid for on the invoice sent to Wartella and McAbee.

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