ESCANABA, Mich. (WZMQ) – The Delta Conservation District is seeking the help of a specialist to recover public documents. The board chair believes District Manager Rory Mattson was involved in erasing those documents.
According to Board Chair Joe Kaplan, official Conservation District documents were deleted from a district computer.
Mattson says he took the computer in question to DS Tech for an overheating issue and to remove the private accounts of a former district employee from the device. Because of the overheating issue, the information on it was to be transferred to another computer. However, Kaplan says the information cannot be found on other district computers.
“That laptop that was decommissioned had conservation district records on it,” Kaplan said to Mattson during a special meeting of the board on Friday. “What happened to those records?”
“It was moved to that [computer] that was sitting on top,” Mattson replied.
“It’s not,” Kaplan said. He continued, “Who moved that data from the old laptop to the new laptop?”
“DS Tech,” Mattson answered.
“No, not according to them,” said Kaplan. “It’s been erased. Someone erased all of it.”
Kaplan says DS Tech was able to recover some of the deleted data.
“I took that laptop to DS Tech and they recovered thousands of files—thousands of files—including electronic files for Ford River Township that I hounded you for five months on a FOIA request before I ran for this district board,” Kaplan said. “You told me NRCS [Natural Resources Conservation Service] has everything. That is either lazy, incompetent, or deceptive.”
The board voted unanimously in favor of requesting a professional’s services to recover the files from the computer’s hard drive. Because the destruction of public records is a crime, the board decided to go to law enforcement first, with the option to go to a private recovery specialist if recommended by officials.