Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mystery in Ellisville: Who Deleted Files from Former City Manager's Computer?

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mystery in Ellisville: Who Deleted Files from Former City Manager's Computer?

Article excerpt

ELLISVILLE * The latest intrigue in Ellisville doesn't involve a proposed Walmart or a mayoral impeachment, but a computer that was used by former city manager Kevin Bookout.

City officials are trying to figure out who accessed the computer on a Sunday night in September and deleted all of Bookout's email and obscured or deleted hundreds of unspecified documents.

"It's like a mini Watergate around here," said Councilman Gary Voss.

The council suspended Bookout on Sept. 11. The following Sunday at 10:30 p.m. someone used Bookout's credentials to log into his computer, Voss said, adding that the person used encryption software to make some documents unreadable.

The same computer was accessed a few days later about 2 a.m., Voss said, and more documents were deleted or altered. In both cases the activity was not done remotely, Mayor Adam Paul said.

Identifying a suspect won't be easy.

City Hall did not have security cameras at the time, officials said. Many employees, along with the mayor and council members, have keys to the building.

Other employees knew Bookout's log-on credentials.

Bookout, through his attorney, denied having any involvement.

"This is the first we have heard of any of this," said Benjamin F. Westhoff, who represents Bookout. "They haven't notified us of any investigation."

Bookout was terminated on Oct. 28. He was fired with cause, meaning that Bookout, who earned roughly $115,000 per year, would forgo six months' worth of severance pay.

Westhoff said Bookout was contesting the termination and is in the process of scheduling an arbitration hearing. The city has not given Bookout a reason for his firing, Westhoff said.

"The city is scrambling around, trying to find anything they can latch on to, to remove him with cause," Westhoff said.

Bookout, his critics have said, played a large part in an unsuccessful attempt to build a Walmart Supercenter just west of the intersection of Kiefer Creek and Manchester roads.

Bookout also testified against Paul during the mayor's impeachment trial in April. …

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