Post Process

Everything to do with E-discovery & ESI

Computer Forensics Vindicates Man Fired for Possessing Child Pornography

Posted by rjbiii on June 18, 2008

A distasteful case appears in the on-line version of the Boston Herald. Michael Fiola was suddenly fired from his job at a state agency and accused of possessing child pornography:

Months later, DIA information technology officials noted that the data usage on Fiola’s Verizon wireless bill was 4 times greater than his colleagues’. After discovering the child porn , Commissioner Paul Buckley fired him on March 14, 2007.

DIA turned the matter over to state police who, after confirming “an overwhelming amount of images of prepubescent children engaged in pornographic poses” were stored on the laptop, persuaded Boston Municipal Court to issue a criminal complaint against Fiola in August 2007.

Now, I’ve seen Dateline, and I know that there are people (a lot of people, evidently) who simply can’t resist the impulse to engage in this kind of behavior. In fact, if you work anywhere near a computer forensics lab (and I do), you find out how incredibly common this kind of activity is. That said, there’s still a little issue of due process. It seems that the data wasn’t downloaded by Mr. Fiola, or anyone he knows, after all:

[Computer Examiner Tami] Loehrs, who spent a month dissecting the computer for the defense, explained in a 30-page report that the laptop was running corrupted virus-protection software, and Fiola was hit by spammers and crackers bombarding its memory with images of incest and pre-teen porn not visible to the naked eye.

The DA’s office concurs. So, Mr. Fiola went back to work, right? Wrong. Apparently the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, who had employed Fiola, who had in fact given him a laptop with defective protection, states that it “stands by [its] decision” to terminate him. Fiola’s attorney, Timothy Bradl, doesn’t get it:

“Imagine this scenario: Your employer gives you a ticking time bomb full of child porn, and then you get fired, and then you get prosecuted as some kind of freak,” he railed.

I don’t get it either, and in this day and age, these types of situations are going to continue to occur; so we should all be very wary.

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