Cumberland Times-News

April 29, 2013

Flap continues over Piedmont Police Department computer

Councilman wants old parts back that he says he installed on unit

Elaine Blaisdell
Cumberland Times-News

— PIEDMONT, W.Va. — Piedmont Councilman Ray Hall demanded that the old parts he had installed in a police computer that the council had originally reported missing be given back to him when council members met last week.

“I told you at the meeting that it’s locked up and you aren’t going to get nothing out of it,” said Mayor Lester “Skip” Clifford.

Hall said that he would file a lawsuit to get the parts back.  

“You people are stealing my stuff,” said Hall. “Fair warning, tomorrow morning I will go and file the paperwork and then you all can be responsible for the thousands of dollars to defend your idiotic decisions.”

Councilman Robert Patenaude said during a January council meeting that he received a letter from Hall requesting that his motherboard, hard drive and a CPU card he installed in the computer be returned.

Clifford and Finance Commissioner Freda Fisher filed a complaint about the missing police computer with the West Virginia State Police, according to Hall. Rice reported that the computer crashed in July and that he sent the computer to Hall, who used to do information technology work for Potomac State College, Sgt. J.M. Droppleman with the state police indicated in a previous interview with the Times-News.

Rice gave Hall the computer to fix to save the city money. Rice emailed Clifford in August to notify him that the computer tower was given to Hall to work on, according to Droppleman.

“The investigation is closed because the computer was never stolen,” said Droppleman in a previous interview with the Times-News. The trooper said that he saw no criminal intent in the missing computer.

 “I think at the next meeting I’ll be presenting a written statement from the West Virginia State Police about this computer thing and also something from the prosecutor’s office,” said Hall.

Clifford and Fisher also filed a complaint with Jay Courrier, Mineral County prosecuting attorney, who also told them that a crime had not been committed, according to Hall. Fisher had voiced concerns at a previous meeting about Hall, who was in jail for attempted extortion unrelated to the city, possessing the hard drive, which has seven years worth of arrest records on it.

“You didn’t get permission from this table here to take it home and work on it,” said Clifford during the council meeting  Wednesday. “The town of Piedmont did not give you permission to work on that computer; they didn’t give you permission to take that computer out of here.”  

“You did not tell us you had the computer,” added Fisher.

Councilwoman Paula Boggs agreed that Hall shouldn’t have had the computer.

The council indicated at a previous meeting that the computer has since been returned but that the hard drive was missing.

Hall said that he had spent nine hours recovering data on the police computer and that he spent three hours putting that data back on a police laptop.

“I spoke to Chief (Paul) Karalewitz,” said Hall. “Anytime that he wanted to bring the laptop down I would show him anything that was on there,” said Hall.

There was a 6-year old DOS-based program called CRiSP on the computer that the county police used to report to the state, according to Hall.

“The program never worked; it was never used,” said Hall. “The only other thing on there belonging to the police department was the forms, pictures and work that (former) Chief Rice had put on there and nothing else.”

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.