Police say they lost Freeh document, can’t look for e-mails

Published August 8, 2013

Apparently, following simple directions isn’t as easy as it seems.

After the Pennsylvania State Police was ordered to turn over correspondence with Louis J. Freeh last month, officials say they’ve lost one letter and can’t search for e-mails without knowing what they say.

The letter was sent to state Police Commissioner Frank Noonan shortly after Penn State hired Freeh, and passed on to investigators in another department. Addressed to the state Attorney General and carbon copied to Noonan, its receipt was logged on Jan. 13, 2012 and assigned number 41482.

But after it made its way to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the letter disappeared, according to PSP Right-to-Know Officer William A. Rozier.

“A search for this correspondence was conducted by BCI but the correspondence could not be located,”  Rozier wrote in a letter last week. “The search consisted of checking with individuals who were involved in the Sandusky investigation.”

The letter was one of several documents police were ordered to release in response to my March 25 Right-to-Know Law request. Officials originally said the request for correspondence with Freeh, Omar McNeil, Tom Cloud and Greg Paw wasn’t sufficiently specific. But the Office of Open Records found otherwise, and ordered police to release the records by July 31.

Rozier also said that police couldn’t look for e-mails from those individuals with knowing more information about what the e-mails contain.

His agency contacted the state Office of Administration, which manages the PSP’s e-mail service. The OA tried to look through its e-mail logs, but said it needs to know the e-mail’s recipient and the subject line.

At best, Rozier’s response is a heaping pile of excuses. At worst, somebody is telling lies.

I responded to Rozier’s letter by pointing out that his agency is required to get a copy of the letter if it is no longer in his agency’s possession. Additionally, documentation for Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 debunks the claim that you need the recipient’s name and e-mail subject  to search through e-mail logs.

I also pointed out that conducting a search of e-mail logs is not the same as searching through actual e-mails. And in the event his staffers are confused, I provided the exact commands a system administrator can use to extract the requested e-mails from the server.

I gave Rozier’s agency 14 more days to retrieve the requested e-mails and get the missing letter from either the AG’s office or Freeh. Unfortunately, the OOR’s order is only enforceable by a court. If his agency continues to play games, my only option is to ask the Commonwealth Court to order the PSP to comply.

For a variety of reasons, that’s likely not something I can do myself, which means shelling out more money so lawyers can do it on my behalf. I’m not looking forward to another trip to the courtroom.

But with the law clearly on my side, count on a continued battle to obtain the records they were ordered to release.

Whether that happens in front of a judge or not is up to them.

  • NAL

    WAY TO GO RYAN!!!!!!!!!!!

  • David Scott Woodrow

    Ryan, I appreciate your efforts. Can you talk to the Parterno lawyers or Paul Kelly’s firm to see if they can assist you? Your information request would definitely benefit their lawsuit and it’s allegations.

    • Doug Robb

      Very good idea, David. Ryan?

  • Thomas Davis

    It’s never about truth and justice. Political power, accompanied by this degree of soft corruption, are what drives the system they serve.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1622405428 Carole Vail

    Ryan, thank you for your persistence and commitment. Lesser men would have given up long ago, and that is exactly what these prevaricators are hoping for. Stay strong and know that you are a hero to many of us who just want to find out the truth.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    I’m fairly well versed in Email systems, and Rozier’s response in not out of line. If someone made a discovery request to my corporation, we’d ask for the same information. They could also be using a 3rd party tool (such as AccessData) for Discovery compliance and a keyword/sendor-recipient may be required to do the search.

    That said, I can’t imagine that they can’t come up with some search terms to look for the emails.

    • Penn State Clips

      “Rozier’s response is not not out of line.”

      Really??? Maybe I’m just silly, but the explanation “The search consisted of checking with individuals who were involved in the Sandusky investigation” is something significantly less than satisfying.

    • Chris Morris

      Yes it is out of line. You only need a sender or recipient to search emails. They can search for words in the body of the email too. Almost any combination you can imagine.

  • Penn State Clips

    Can you imagine the hellfire that would rain down upon someone if the situation were reversed and it was the State Police making the document request?

    “The OA tried to look through its e-mail logs, but said it needs to know the e-mail’s recipient and the subject line.”

    Cripes, what a joke. How the heck would you (or any other requester) know the recipient and the subject line? Any semi-literate 12-year-old could keyword search a series of emails.

    They could obviously keyword search for “Sandusky,” “Freeh,” etc. if they really wanted to find something. But clearly they DON’T want to find something.

    Hmmm…does the Commonwealth have a “secret file” of Freeh/Sandusky correspondence?

  • Larry Schultz

    Ryan, if they refuse to provide the records initially and you have to litigate and eventually get them, is the public entity required to pay your attorney fees?

    • Anonymous

      They are, but the standard of proof is whether access to the record was denied in “bad faith,” which basically means they have to intentionally and knowingly deny access to a public record. Let’s see how they respond to my letter.

      • Larry Schultz

        Yeah that is effectively no fee shifting, because I am going to guess it is very rare. My state’s rule is more like the federal rule. Good luck. Your persistence has been inspiring. Keep pounding.

  • Doug Robb

    The corruption machine of the Commonwealth is working just fine, as exemplified here. Obfuscate, lie, make additional requests, excuses, but God forbid they get the job done.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rick.sanson Rick Sanson

    Wow, this just gets weirder and weirder.

  • Anonymous

    Is there an update on this?