Second investigation of Monroeville data breach reaches different conclusions

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A second private investigation of the release of personal information that Monroeville public safety officials obtained apparently has reached substantially different conclusions from the first one.

The municipality hasn’t released CSI Western PA’s report, but Monroeville manager Timothy Little summarized its conclusions for council members Tuesday at a public meeting.

His summary placed the blame for the improper release on former police Lt. Steve Pascarella, who initially reported the breach to federal officials.

Mr. Little said that the report would not be made public and that council members should not discuss it because of pending federal lawsuits.

Political infighting in the municipality has led to Mr. Pascarella and former manager Lynette McKinney filing federal lawsuits.

The initial report in July 2013 by John J. Daley Consulting placed the blame on police Chief K. Douglas Cole, who was fired.

After a new council majority was elected in November, Ms. McKinney was fired, Chief Cole was reinstated, and a new investigation was ordered in February.

Mr. Little, hired as Ms. McKinney’s replacement, told council he asked for the second investigation shortly after he was hired because a police secretary he interviewed gave him different information than the Daley report contained.

Municipal solicitor Bruce Dice recommended the second review, he said.

The CSI report concluded that access to personal information was a continuing problem “which was routinely fixed but never corrected” by Mr. Pascarella, Mr. Little told council. The second report also concluded that firefighters who accessed the personal information did it accidentally or incidentally but not for malicious intent and that Chief Cole had no role in a series of mishandled traffic tickets, Mr. Little said.

Chief Cole said he was “kinda happy” with the results of the second investigation but declined to comment on it specifically because of lawsuits previously filed, including one he filed when he was fired.

The situation began in 2012 when Mr. Pascarella reported to federal officials that firefighters were gaining access to law enforcement and medical information in violation of privacy laws.

Besides the CSI and Daley private investigations, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the state attorney general’s office reviewed the complaint. They concluded there was unauthorized access, but federal officials said the privacy provisions don’t apply to firefighters, and state officials said they would handle the breach administratively rather than issuing penalties.

The differing conclusions of the two private investigations leave the situation muddled.

“My official line is no comment,” Chief Cole said. “I look forward to having this all sorted out under oath in court, but if someone asked me, my belief is council should take this report and all the other investigations and put them out there to the public and let some outside agency look at them and see what they think.”

Mr. Pascarella and Ms. McKinney referred questions to their attorney, Joseph Chivers, who couldn’t be reached for comment. Mr. Little, Mr. Dice and Mayor Greg Erosenko couldn’t be reached for comment.

Ed Blazina: or 412-263-1470.

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