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Council passes SS number breach over to village insurance

by David Fleet

March 14, 2012

Goodrich- When the village council adjourned the special meeting just after 9 p.m. Monday night, a glimmer of light may have been shed on a controversy over a breach of security and just who should be responsible.

In November, the village council voted 4-0 to hire Grand Blanc CPA Karl Haiser to resolve an unpaid bill of about $6,000 as well as answer questions regarding whether 19 individuals' private information was compromised by the removal of computer files after the dismissal of the village administrator.

The council approved a $9,300 contract with Haiser, which was discussed March 15 at a special village meeting. A four-page preliminary report that described the focus of the report was released on Feb. 10.

A 55-page detailed report was released last week which stemmed from a Feb. 9 row when 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 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.

After that, then-Village Council President Patricia Wartella and Councilman Doug McAbee authorized the computer to be sent to Lansing-based Dalman Investigations. The decision to contract with Dalman was made without a village council vote. The report was not released to the public; however, 19 individuals' Social Security numbers were allegedly included on the computer hard drive.

Haiser's objective was to determine if the Dalman Investigations contract was approved by the Village of Goodrich in accordance with the Goodrich Code, Chapter 12—purchasing contracts over $500, which requires village council approval. In addition, Haiser was to review the Dalman Investigations contract to determine who is the client and thus responsible to pay the investigation fees of $6,134.47.

Following the two hour meeting, the village council voted 4-1 to let the village insurance company handle the breach of the Social Security numbers and recommended that Lifelock, a security company, be paid for by the village to protect against possible credit fraud. The service costs $10 per person, per month and alerts the client when personal information, including Social Security numbers, is being used to apply for wireless services, retail credit, utilities, and mortgage loans.

Councilman Richard Saroli voted against the decision.

"This is a little ball, not hard ball," he said. "We are just kicking the can down the road. The bottom line is we are not addressing the legality of the situation."

Richard Horton, council president, did not see it that way.

"We are trying to do due-diligence here," said Horton. "We need to address where the Social Security numbers are and have an obligation to satisfy those that had the numbers stolen."

Councilmembers Richard Horton, Pete Morey and Mark Baldwin, along with Village Administrator Jakki Sidge participated in the report. Current Councilmember Doug McAbee, past council members Philp Jackson and Patricia Wartella, did not participate in the report.

Haiser recommended the village council not pay Dalman and look to the individuals requesting his services for liability payment. The request for services was requested and approved by Wartella and McAbee, councilmembers of the Village of Goodrich. Both signed the contract and paid the required retainer. Furthermore, in Haiser's report he suggested that Wartella and McAbee believed they had authority to investigate the Village of Goodrich server data activity and required security.

"The board did not authorize the investigation," said Haiser. "They did not sign the contract, the Village of Goodrich is not responsible for the Dalman report—then who is the client? The documents speak for themselves."

The report also said the village office staff noted unusual after hours events from Feb.22 to Aug. 30, 2011.

"There was an invasion of private space," he said. "In the best interest of the Village of Goodrich, McAbee should resign," Haiser said.

Councilman McAbee questioned the Haiser opinion.

"There's a lot of speculation," he said. "You don't have the whole story—there's a lot that's not here. You need to ask Dalman about the Social Security numbers. Those numbers are encrypted, you're not sure if he (Dalman) can get to them. Who gives you the right to make conclusions anyway?"

Haiser responded.

"Dalman was requested to be here—he was advised by his attorney to not be here. This report will lead to a conclusion—we have 19 victims here.The report is court ready, end of story."

Keith Walworth, one of the individuals whose Social Security number was compromised, responded to the decision.

In the report, Walworth requested the village council take legal action against both Wartella and McAbee.

"I think there's criminal activity," he told the council. "They broke the law, locks were changed—this should be sent to the prosecutor."

There was no indication that further legal action will be taken.

"If they feel they should go to court then it's up to the insurance company to address the issue," said Horton.