Schenectady County

Princetown officials say computer, office illegally accessed

Suspicious occurrences at Town Hall recently have upset a pair of Princetown officials.

Suspicious occurrences at Town Hall recently have upset a pair of Princetown officials.

In May, lone Town Justice Michelle Van Woeart issued a memo suggesting her computer system had been accessed remotely by someone other than court personnel. Then last week, town Supervisor Mike Joyce called state police after discovering a bookshelf in his locked office appeared as though it had been torn from the wall.

In the case of the court computers, Van Woeart informed members of the Town Board and Town Clerk Carol McClaine that certain documents had been viewed without her permission. She did not specify what files had been accessed, but ordered that whoever was accessing her computer “cease and desist” immediately.

The memo also demanded Joyce remove software enabling the computer to be accessed remotely and asked the town Ethics Committee to conduct an investigation into “wrongdoing” that had transpired. The memo was also sent to the state Office of Court Administration.

Van Woeart did not respond to calls for comment. In an email sent last week, she said she “cannot discuss anything relative to any breach at this time.”

Joyce said he’s seen no evidence of anyone wrongly accessing the court’s computer. An official with Omnis Computer, the company that has maintained the town’s network for roughly a decade, indicated the company’s remote monitoring tool that was used for a “complete network inventory” ordered by Joyce’s administration may have been mistaken for a breach.

“We installed the software to audit the network for inventory purposes only,” Omnis President Scott Johnson wrote in a letter to the town last month. “Only Omnis technicians had access to the software, and it was removed after the inventory was completed.”

Meanwhile, Joyce is questioning whether someone inappropriately accessed his office sometime between Aug. 19 and Aug. 21. He acknowledged the shelves could have fallen on their own, but the prospect is unlikely.

“Although we can’t say for sure they were pulled off, everyone, including the state police, agree that the odds of them pulling out by themselves was slim,” he said in an email to town officials.

Contacted Monday, Joyce said there doesn’t appear to be any indication of tampering in other areas of the office, including a file cabinet with confidential information. He said the locks to the office were changed in January, and only a few people have keys.

Joyce said another less-secure office in the town connects to his via a drop ceiling.

Categories: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply