Hard drive claims raise city security concerns

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May 9, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---The controversy continues over city administrator Fred Russell's computer hard drive.

Commissioner Marion Williams claims to have a copy of it, and now there are questions about how he got it and whether it was done legally.

"This whole thing is a mess and it is a disservice to this city," Mayor Deke Copenhaver said.

For others it's more of a mystery. Does Commissioner Marion Williams have a copy of city administrator's computer hard drive as he claims? If so, how did he get it?

Williams won't say much, but he says he received the data yesterday from a quote "professional" source.

"I got it from a professional," he said. "I had to go outside to do some things."

When asked if he received the hard drive through the IT department, he said, "You not going to get me to say what you want me to say."

News 12 contacted city information technology officials. They say no one in their office released the information and that any other way data was obtained would likely be inappropriate.

Now Williams' claim is causing a security concern.

"If he's had somebody hack into our computer system, outside the normal course of action, we've got a problem there with our computer system," Russell said. "If he can have somebody do that, then we need to make sure our system is secure."

Williams says he's waiting on a legal opinion before looking at the hard drive.

He says he has reason to believe the administrator is violating city policy by doing personal business on the city PC.

Russell says Williams will soon find that is not the case.

"I've got 32 years of government service where I've served the citizens not only of Augusta, but others," he said. "I've done nothing wrong to my knowledge."

This has become a legal issue because as the administrator, Mr. Russell may have personnel, budget, or personal medical information on the computer. The mayor says he is waiting on a legal opinion to determine what position the city should take.

The IT department has a security administrator and we're told they are investigating. They say so far, there haven't been any signs that the system was hacked into.

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