DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – In a stunning about-face, Dallas County now acknowledges someone hacked into the computers of Commissioner John Wiley Price and his assistant, Dapheny Fain. The unknown person or persons may also have entered their offices without authorization. Fain’s attorney has insisted there are more than a dozen documented cases of computer hacking despite the county’s earlier claims to the contrary.
In his office Friday, one by one, attorney Tom Mills checked off evidence of incursions into the computers of Fain and Price, reports given to and/or created by Dallas County IT experts. “Yeah, I was surprised, because they clearly show that Ms. Fain’s office PC was accessed by an unknown source,” Mills told CBS 11.
His records show fifteen unauthorized entries in 2009 alone. Some items that were deleted: a telephone database; e-mails between Price and Fain; temporary files; files identifying who had accessed their computers remotely. Other items were merely viewed: activity on a computer directory and various e-mail attachments. Mills insists nothing bad was taken. “It doesn’t concern me that Ms. Fain had something incriminating in and of itself on her computer,” he said, adding, “but the act of it is a concern—the intrusion.”
Fain and Price and political consultant Kathy Nealy all had search warrants served on them last month in connection with a federal probe of alleged money laundering, bribery, and tax evasion. No one has been charged. Mills thinks the missing information might have been given to law enforcement.
At first, the county denied there were any security breaches. Spokeswoman Maria Arita said Thursday, “There is absolutely nothing having to do with a break of security here on anybody’s computer system.”
Friday, though, Arita admitted county investigators are now going back years and checking for evidence of possisble computer hacking and even office burglary. “Now we have reason to be concerned some kind of security breach happened.”
Mills is willing to give Arita the benefit of the doubt. “She’s only been there a short time but to say she checked and it didn’t happen. I really wanted to correct (the record); because it happened.”
Mills, meantime, must depend on only the paperwork of the investigation because Fain’s computers, as well as Price’s, were seized when the search warrants were executed last month. He wants Fain’s computers and other items returned so he can prepare to properly defend her if the need arises.