The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

May 25, 2013

Expert: Files gone, porn stays on laptop

By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item

SUNBURY — Twelve hours before Sunbury Councilman Joe Bartello surrendered his city-owned laptop to police under threat of punishment by Mayor David Persing, the computer’s operating system was changed, a Bloomsburg forensics company states.

In a report, Optimo Digital Forensics says files were destroyed in the process. The company added that it found pornographic images on Bartello’s computer.

Moran Industries, Watsontown, which operates a business at the former Celotex site, had filed a Right To Know request seeking emails on Bartello’s computer which related to Moran’s operation. Bartello oversees the city’s code enforcement office.

Bartello was to allow a Jersey Shore law firm representing Moran to view his computer on April 10, but he failed to show at City Hall because he said he had a doctor’s appointment.

Persing then ordered Bartello to relinquish his computer to city police. Forty-seven minutes before officers were authorized to seize the laptop on April 12, Bartello arrived at the police station and handed over the computer.

City police Chief Steve Mazzeo declined to comment on the computer, but Persing said the laptop then was sealed with evidence tape at the police department.

“And it was not opened up until we met with the IT people (in Bloomsburg),” Persing said. “At no time was that computer opened for a third party to look at it.”

James Albertson, a forensic analyst for Optimo Digital, said his investigation found that “someone” on April 12 installed Windows 7 Home Operating System.

A significant destruction of data occurred as a result of the installation of the operating system and effectively hindered the recovery of emails, documents and other artifacts, Albertson said.

“This is because when an operating system is reinstalled, a low-level formatting takes place which destroys the previous folder structure,” Albertson said.

Bartello admitted on Friday that he did install the new operating system.

“I did it to protect the innocent,” Bartello said.

Then he changed his quote to: “The computer was having problems and I needed to fix it.”

Bartello said the three pornographic photos on the computer were not his and he has no idea how they got there.

“I bought it refurbished,” he said. “Maybe that’s what caused the computer to not work right.”

The Daily Item called Staples’ cooperate office, which referred the call to Acer Computer.

A representative at Acer said Staples sells refurbished computers but they are rebuilt and they would have no chance of containing pornographic material.

Forensics experts say new software was installed at 12:12:51 a.m. April 12, roughly 12 hours before Bartello turned the laptop over to police.

Albertson said the pornographic files were recovered from an unallocated space and he could not determine when or how they were placed on the computer. He added that it “cannot be determined if the user had knowledge of the files.”