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2 employees accused of misconduct on job

A state inspector general's investigation found that two employees in the state Health Department's office in Buffalo engaged in minor misconduct on the job.

One inappropriately destroyed the hard drive on a co-worker's computer, said the report.

The co-worker whose hard drive was destroyed was cited for misusing the state mail system on one occasion and for once asking a colleague to perform personal business for him while on state time, the report stated.

A complaint in January sparked the investigation, which found that Toby Mansfield, the regional office's director of administrative services, destroyed the computer hard drive of Salvatore Page on Page's last day in the office.

In an interview with investigators, Mansfield admitted using a power drill to bore holes in the drive, rendering it inoperable and blocking any investigation of its contents, according to the report.

Mansfield violated department policy, which requires that computers of departing employees be scrubbed for reuse or "shredded" by a private contractor, the report found.

He also failed to seek permission from the appropriate official before taking action, investigators said.

Mansfield told investigators that he believed it was within his authority to destroy the hard drive without seeking permission beforehand. He added that he destroyed the hard drive himself because the private contractor had recently been in the regional office and he felt it wasn't worth asking them to return to shred one hard drive.

Mansfield declined through a department spokesman to comment for this report.

Page, who had been associate commissioner in the regional office, told The Buffalo News he did not ask Mansfield to destroy his hard drive.

Page is accused in the report of once using the state mail system to send a personal letter.

He told The News the only time he ever used the state mail system for personal business is when he would use it to send Mass cards to employees whose immediate family members had died.

Also, a Health Department employee admitted that he once volunteered while on state time to run an errand for Page, an offer that Page accepted, the report found.

The department employee spent 45 minutes driving to a rental store to pick up a pump for a relative of Page's whose basement had flooded during last October's storm.

Page said the employee ran this errand on his lunch hour, though the report only states that he was working overtime. Page said he was not interviewed by investigators.

Page will not face any disciplinary action because he no longer is a department employee. He retired effective March 30.

The inspector general recommended that the Health Department discipline Mansfield.

The department is exploring what action, if any, is appropriate, said Jeffrey Hammond, a spokesman. He declined further comment.

For more information, visit www.ig.state.ny.us/reports/reports.html and click on the link to the Nov. 15 report.

e-mail: swatson@buffnews.com

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