Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree has forwarded Commissioner Marion Williams request for a preliminary investigation of missing computer files onto the GBI and Secretary of State’s office for any action those agencies deemed necessary.
The sheriff’s office made no recommendation whether the agencies should investigate disappearance of computer files used by former Augusta City Administrator Fred Russell.
Pat Morgan, special agent in charge of the GBI’s Thomson post, said the bureau received the request Feb. 24 but hasn’t decided whether to open an investigation.
“We haven’t officially opened the case,” Morgan said. “There are some questions that we have about the request, and we have to do a couple of initial interviews.”
Morgan confirmed that Commissioner Marion Williams, who pushed to retrieve the contents of Russell’s computer in January, will be among those interviewed.
Morgan said Sheriff Richard Roundtree’s request was “his prerogative, and we’re more than happy to assist.” He expects the bureau to make a decision about whether to proceed with an investigation by the end of the week.
Russell, a former deputy police chief in Richmond, Va., served as Augusta administrator for nearly a decade until the Augusta Commission fired him without cause Dec. 9, effective at the end of last year.
After a considerable amount of commission discussion, Williams’ request to access Russell’s computer files was granted, but the city law department provided only a small number of documents in response to the request.
Shortly after, a local television reporter said Russell told him off camera he’d deleted the files. Georgia laws govern the retention of government documents, including emails, based on their content.
Interim City Administrator Tameka Allen, who serves as Information Technology Director, has denied that IT staff helped Russell delete files from his computers or the city network. Russell, who was considering a run for mayor, later cancelled those plans after news broke about the deleted files.