Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray will be speaking with the Erie County District Attorney’s Office in the coming days to determine if a crime was committed when hundreds of files were deleted from a town server at the end of former Supervisor Mary S. Cooke’s term.
McMurray, who issued a statement on the incident last week, said he is bringing it to the District Attorney’s Office after receiving numerous complaints from town residents over the deleted files.
“I’ll consult with the DA based on the huge amount of public blowback,” he said, noting that it’s “only as a matter of due diligence.”
“I’ll ask them what they think about the situation.”
The incident stems from when McMurray first took office in January, and discovered that nearly 1,800 files had been deleted from a town server.
According to the statement McMurray released last week, the files were deleted by someone using Cooke’s user name and password.
“Why this was done and the scope of the impact is unclear,” he said in the statement.
The town’s information technology team was able to restore all of the deleted files from a backup server, McMurray said, minimizing any potential damage to the town.
In light of the incident, the town has made document retention, both paper and digital, a priority, McMurray said.
“We spent the day going over possible protocols for document retention,” he said Monday afternoon.
A call to Cooke for comment Monday was not returned.
During Monday evening’s Town Board meeting, several board members brought up the deleted files, including Raymond Billica, who said he’s heard rumors that he knew about the incident before it went public.
“I want to dispel that notion,” he said, reading from a prepared statement. “I had no knowledge of the alleged action until it was brought out in public. I do not condone the deletion of files, which are required by law to be preserved for any following elected officials.”
McMurray said that no one currently serving on the board was involved in the incident.
“I will say that this Town Board had nothing to do with the deleted files,” he said.
Councilman Michael Madigan also chimed in on the deleted files, calling the incident “very bad behavior.”
“As a result of that behavior, we will be looking at a policy to prevent that from happening again and hold us elected (officials) accountable,” he said.
Grand Island resident Rus Thompson had previously contacted both the District Attorney’s Office and the New York State Attorney General’s Office to investigate the deleted files.
He has yet to hear back.
“To me, it’s a crime,” he said during an interview last week.