Rowan computer examined
Marc Valero | Highlands TodayAVON PARK - The alleged erasing of computer files on Mike Rowan's city-owned computer is a key issue in the former police chief's lawsuit against the city.
Published: July 9, 2012
Published: July 9, 2012
Now, his attorney is challenging the city of Avon Park's claim through a study the defense has commissioned.
City Manager Julian Deleon put Rowan on paid administrative leave April 19, 2011, suspended him without pay June 3, 2011, and fired him Oct. 19.
The controversy surrounding the computer files is noted in a Sept. 6 "notice of potential disciplinary action" from Deleon to Rowan.
"On or about April of 2011, after I provided a memorandum to you regarding employment expectations, you ordered Police Commander Jason Liter to completely wipe your computer's hard drive," Deleon wrote.
"Your directive to Lister resulted in the destruction of all data on a city-owned computer as discovered by the Polk County Sheriff's computer forensics staff," he added.
Rowan's attorney, Robert Grizzard II, said he paid for a digital forensic investigation of the computer, which he believes shows no wrongdoing by Rowan.
"I think that study indicates that there was no deletion" by Rowan, Grizzard said.
The city "was attempting to connect" it to the time Rowan received Deleon's memorandum, the lawyer added.
"But, the computer, according to our report, sat idle over the weekend between that time and only had normal business conducted on it up until the time it was last formally shut down, which was when Chief Rowan got the news that he was suspended," Grizzard said.
The city's claim that Rowan was improperly deleting files from his computer is still one of the grounds it has not withdrawn for the due process hearing, Grizzard said recently.
At an injunction hearing before Judge David Langford, Deleon testified one of the reasons he suspended Rowan without pay was the allegation he wiped off the computer, Grizzard said.
R. LeGrande Gardner, owner and forensic examiner of LeGrande PLLC, Lakeland, a digital forensics firm serving Tampa Bay and Central Florida, did the study.
The study shows after Rowan's suspension, the computer was accessed remotely more than once and some files showed some alteration, Grizzard said.
Two wipe programs, CCleaner and Eraser, typically used to combat computer viruses, were also installed on April 15, 2011, the study shows.
"Our expert and others that we have talked to indicate that using the Eraser program is a common thing that is often done and is even recommended to be done if there is a virus on the computer that can't be removed otherwise," he said.
At some point, the computer was accessed around 1 a.m. on a date that was well after Rowan no longer had access to it, Grizzard said. Exactly what was done at that time could not be determined.
The computer investigation report shows that the "C drive" was modified at 12:51 a.m. May 25, 2011.
The executive summary of the computer report notes that the primary hard drive on Rowan's computer was wiped using an undetermined program and the operating system, files, folder and various programs were reinstalled.
On April 19, 2011, the date when Rowan was suspended with pay, the computer's operating system was shut down for the very last time.