Fayette attorney's hard drive erasure case thrown out
A special prosecutor has cleared former Fayette County Attorney Scott Bennett of charges that he illegally wiped information from the hard drives of two county-issued computers he used.
Charles A. Spahos, appointed as a temporary solicitor to investigate the case, entered a dismissal of the case Aug. 16, saying there was no evidence a theft had occurred as alleged.
Spahos, in a document dismissing the case against Bennett, noted that Bennett preserved the information on the hard drives by “printing hard copies of the information on each hard drive prior to having the hard drives cleaned.”
Spahos said then-County Administrator Jack Krakeel had the authority to authorize the hard drives be wiped because he supervised the county’s information systems director, who controls and maintains all county computers.
Previously county officials contended that Krakeel could not authorize the hard drive wipe because Bennett reported directly to the commissioners, not the county manager.
Bennett told The Citizen Tuesday that he left a hard copy of each document on his hard drives inside the filing cabinet of his former office at the county government complex.
“I have said all along that I didn’t do anything wrong,” Bennett said, blaming current Fayette County Commission Chairman Steve Brown for trumping up the charges. “Now of course, Steve has had his way and there’s nothing wrong. Just more of him casting false aspersions about people like he always does. It seems to be a pattern with him: making false allegations against people.”
Bennett added that no one from Fayette County Government has called to ask him about a missing document.
“We now have a new ethical standard,” Brown lamented about the case. “As long as you erase the hard drive and then say “I’ve got a paper copy file somewhere on it, then we’re OK.”
Brown later added that the case “sets a dangerous precedent” averse to the state’s Open Records Law.
The probe also cleared Bennett of allegations that he committed “theft of services” by practicing law in four cases in Henry County which were unrelated to his job as county attorney. Spahos noted there is no evidence that Bennett practiced law during county work hours, so “no evidence of theft of services exists.”
Although those four cases happened during a time frame in which Bennett’s employment contract with the county prohibited him from working such outside cases without written permission, that is a civil matter and not a criminal one, Spahos noted.
The case was investigated by the Fayette County Marshal’s Department, which conducts internal investigations for the county.