Monday, January 7, 2008

Fired security guard says he's not to blame for data theft

By MICHAEL CASS Staff Writer (for The Tennessean) The security guard who was fired after computers with voters’ Social Security numbers were stolen from the Davidson County Election Commission says he wasn’t on duty at the time. In fact, Brendan Murphy said in a telephone interview, no one was on duty at the time. Murphy called The Tennessean after reading a story in Friday’s paper about an unnamed guard who was blamed by Metro officials for listening to Christmas music, ordering takeout food and failing to make his hourly rounds as two laptop computers were stolen. He said he was getting “a bad rap,” even though his identity wasn’t known publicly at the time. “I would swear on a stack of Bibles, that window was broken out Saturday (Dec. 22),” Murphy said. Metro police believe the computers were stolen from the Metro Office Building on Monday, Dec. 24, at about 9:45 p.m., when a computer router in the election commission office was unplugged, according to an electronic record. Murphy was working then, and he acknowledges that he slacked off that night. "We'd just never had a break-in before," he said. But Murphy, 40, said he noticed that Christmas decorations and a roll-up window at the election commission were out of place when he started work at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 23. He said neither he nor anyone else worked the previous night due to budget cuts by Specialized Security Consultants, a Mt. Juliet firm that was expected to provide security for 12 hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays. William Jones, vice president of Specialized Security Consultants, declined to comment this morning. The firm is a subcontractor of Wackenhut, which has a security contract with Metro government. Wackenhut’s Nashville general manager, Andrew Bedlack, referred a reporter to Specialized Security Consultants. Murphy said he didn’t notice the election commission’s smashed exterior window the night he discovered the Christmas decorations and the roll-up window, and he admitted that he failed to report those irregularities to his bosses. He said he assumed an election commission worker had come in on the weekend, forgotten his or her key and raised the window to get in the office. Murphy said he believes a thief came back into the office through the smashed window on Dec. 24 and unplugged the computer router. He said he wouldn’t have heard anyone coming through a window that was already broken. Another guard discovered the burglary on Dec. 26. The computers are still missing.

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