Workers' records found at landfill -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Workers' records found at landfill

April 19, 2006

Albany -- Social Security numbers of Dougherty County employees may have fallen into the hands of a criminal.

On April 7th, two 40-gallon trash bags, full of employee records, including some medical information, were taken to the Dougherty County landfill without first being shredded.

An inmate on work detail got a hold of that information, and hid it in a shed at the landfill.

Investigators are trying to figure out how personal information of county employees got there in the first place and if any criminal charges will be filed against the inmate, or the employee who didn't destroy it.

Shredding documents which include an employees personal information is easy, fast-- and by the way-- it's the law. "Not destroying this property is a violation of numerous laws including some HIPPA violations, privacy act laws, anything with medical information is supposed to be properly shredded before it's sent out there," said Dougherty County Sheriff's Lt. Craig Dodd.

Are you aware that it's state law to shred that? "I was not aware that it was state law, but it is practice that we do it," said HR Director Alice Goseer-Jenkins.

But not policy, and that's what may have led to the documents being improperly disposed of.

Dougherty County Sheriff's investigator Craig Dodd says they came directly from the HR office. "They were full of applications, medical and dental forms, urinalysis test results of employees from the human resources department."

Information that went straight into an inmate's hands, but it's not known if he passed it along, or tried to use it. "The inmate had made statements to other inmates that he knew what to do with this information on the Internet," said Dodd.

At least 40 county employees are at risk from employees at the D. A.'s office to elected county commissioners are at risk. Goseer-Jenkins says they are working on a policy to keep this kind of leak from happening in the future.

Charges will likely be filed against the inmate, and could be filed against the employee who didn't destroy documents. "I would think the county administrator would want to get to the bottom of it right away and take serious action," said Dodd.

The County administrator is conducting an internal investigation to figure out exactly what happened and why. He says he spoke with department heads to remind them about shredding personal information.

Investigators say they have not decided if there will be any disciplinary action once they find out which employee improperly disposed of the items.