Toms River Council Votes to Destroy Hard Drives During DoJ, Attorney General Investigations

TOMS RIVER, NJ – The Toms River Township Council on Tuesday voted to destroy hard drives in all of their copier machines that contain records of documents and data dating back several years.  Councilman Daniel Rodrick raised the concern to the council prior to the vote.

“Given that the Department of Labor, a division of the Attorney General’s Office has filed a formal inquiry with the township, and given the township is currently engaged in litigation with both private parties and the U.S. Department of Justice, I do not believe it would be wise to dispose of these copy machines at this time,” Rodrick told the council. “Most copy machines have a hard drive that contain the record of copies made and this could be viewed as destruction of evidence which is a federal crime. It would be prudent for the administration to ensure the safety and integrity of the data on these hard drives.”

Rodrick suggested those hard drives instead should be held by the Toms River Police Department for safe keeping.  Rodrick asked the council to table the resolution to destroy the hard drives.

“In order for us to dispose electronic equipment, it has to be sold to a qualified e-waste facility,” said Business Administrator Lou Amoroso. “I’m not that familiar with these machines, the entire machine gets turned over to the facility. As far as the inquiry into payroll records.”

The township said the hard drive data will be destroyed before the equipment is sold.  It is unknown if those hard drives will be backed up before their destruction.

Rodrick said if the machines are being sold for scrap, there’s no reason to not keep the hard drives as evidence.

“We’re not required to keep them,” Amoroso said.

Laurie Huryk asked for the council to proceed with the destruction of hard drives saying policies are in place that the hard drive are stored on servers. Typically photo copy machines are not stored on file servers and it was found those servers were not networked.  Huryk pushed against Rodrick’s effort to save the data.  Council President Maria Maruca and Huryk strongly rejected Rodrick’s request to save the drives.

Rodrick is referring to a subpoena for documents received by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office investigating the township’s payroll department last month.

“It’s very unusual to be throwing these away,” Rodrick said.

The council instead, lead by Huryk voted unanimously, sans Rodrick to destroy the hard drives.

Democrat Terrance Turnbach, who is a lawyer said that none of the litigants have asked to preserve the copier hard drive, so he said it is a non-issue.