Police investigate report of stolen E.C. library data

2011-03-19T00:00:00Z 2011-03-19T17:45:06Z Police investigate report of stolen E.C. library dataBy Steve Zabroski Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
March 19, 2011 12:00 am  • 

EAST CHICAGO | Indiana State Police arrived at the East Chicago Public Library on Friday afternoon to investigate the reported theft of computer hard drives holding all the library's records, but the library's former director said nobody told him about missing equipment.

Manuel "Manny" Montalvo was abruptly fired by library trustees late Wednesday in an action he characterized as illegal, just one month after a previous group of trustees had extended his contract through 2013.

Employees taking inventory Thursday after the change in administration called city police to the main library branch, 2401 E. Columbus Drive, after allegedly discovering hard drives missing from the library's main computer room and the desktop computer in the office of the library director.

According to the employees' reports, the library's remote back-up service -- an offsite vendor that stores copies of library files in Palatine, Ill., as insurance against data losses at the library -- called Thursday to say it could not access the library's main computer server.

The library's technical services administrator had called off work that day, as had several other employees in the aftermath of the contentious Wednesday board meeting, delaying recognition that the problem was a missing drive unit.

A locksmith called by Library Board President Clifton Johnson was on the scene opening doors and changing locks, and finally managed to get into the director's office about 2 p.m., when employees were able to confirm that that drive, too, was physically missing.

Unspecified surveillance equipment also was reported missing.

Officials with NSI Wireless Internet LLC, the library's backup service provider, said they could not comment on the matter because of a nondisclosure agreement in their contract with the library.

Both state police and East Chicago detectives declined to discuss their investigations of the alleged theft.

Montalvo said Friday he was escorted out of the library by police under threat of arrest shortly after the Library Board replaced him with Charles Moore on Wednesday, and that he hasn't been back since.

He said he hadn't received any official notification from the library regarding his termination, and that he wasn't aware of any missing computer equipment.

Both Montalvo and former library attorney Carmen Fernandez, whose contract also was voided by library trustees Wednesday, said they would take legal action over what they consider their unlawful terminations, but neither would provide any details Friday.

Appointments made to the Library Board over the past month resulted in a majority of the seven-member body dissatisfied with Montalvo's leadership of the library over the past five years.

Three trustees remain of the Library Board, which met in February, and only one of them voted to extend Montalvo's contract at the time.

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