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Schuylkill Commissioners Hear Concerns Over Snoopgate Letters

Treasurer again calls for employees to be fired.

Apparently more than just a handful of people have received letters recently from Schuylkill County Commissioner Boots Hetherington, alerting them that their personal identity information may have been compromised.

On Wednesday, a few people notified the Commissioners that they got a letter similar to the one we featured in a recent report. And all who addressed the Commissioners this week expressed concern over getting it.

However, all the comments received by Commissioners on Wednesday weren’t exactly of the same tone.

Some Express Concern Over Snoopgate Letters Received, Treasurer Calls for Employees to be Fired

Some who spoke of getting one of these letters told Commissioners they should reconsider the action, or lack thereof, regarding the two Courthouse employees who are accused of starting off this mess.

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The County says that in August 2021, two employees conducted a number of “unauthorized searches” on LexisNexis. Commissioners now say that that activity potentially compromised the identity of more than 9,000 people.

The employees have been suspended from their Courthouse jobs since September but have survived two public termination attempts. Some who spoke on Wednesday say the Commissioners should fire these employees.

That includes Schuylkill County Treasurer Linda Yeich, who spoke passionately before the Commissioners on Wednesday. It’s clear she got one of the letters.

“I want to be the voice of those over 9,100 people,” Yeich pronounced. “Over the weekend, I too, as an elected official, had gotten some phone calls about the letters received and asking the who-what-where-why-when. Unfortunately, no one is happy.”

She told Commissioners she’s read the LexisNexis contract to see what is “allowed” per it and reviewed the scope of the job of the two employees in question. Yeich also revealed that she has previously filed a Right to Know request to “get the report pulled on me” but says she was denied by the very Courthouse where she works. The reason, she said, was because her request was based on something that’s a non-criminal investigation.

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Now, for the record, the County has never officially stated that any “reports” were pulled or manufactured by the employees in question. All the Courthouse is saying is that the more than 9,100 people who will get one of these letters had the identity information exposed during a search.

And really, the County isn’t very clear on what, if anything, the alleged rogue employees saw or did with the information they allegedly accessed. The County says an investigation was conducted that allowed it to reach its conclusions on the matter but has denied all attempts to get a copy of the report.

“I’m not putting this to bed yet, either,” Yeich continued before the Commissioners. “They have my non-public personal information and we know that should only be given out upon consent.

“If there’s actions, there’s consequences. We need to do the right thing,” Yeich said, referring to firing these two employees. “You need to take action. You need to deal with it. This is not right that they’ve done this and they have on many people. There’s no need for them to do a report on me.”

Again, the County never said officially that a “report” exists on anyone allegedly tied up in this search fiasco.

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Regardless, she continued, “I’m not going to let this rest. I’m will continue to pursue this, again, because somebody has my non-public personal information and I didn’t consent to it.”

Critical of Courthouse Operations

Not everyone was calling for the heads of the employees in question on Wednesday, however.

Robert Allison spoke before the Commissioners at length, prior to Yeich’s comments. For whatever reason, he was given about 7 minutes to speak even though Hetherington has usually been pretty strict at cutting off comments after 3 minutes. He’s got his finger on the stopwatch and is ready to cease comments when they’re particularly critical of his administration.

Maybe it was because Allison told Commissioners that he and many members of his family received a similar letter over the weekend. And anyone crying foul over this letter right now would be key to Boots’ argument that’s lacked any substantive facts so far.

But what Allison said to the Commissioners was more critical of them and their lack of process and policies, particularly within the Human Resources department. He called everything released by the County to date on this matter nothing more than accusations.

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“Leave the politics out of this,” he said. “The only thing that matters in this world is fact. If you can’t prove it, I can’t see it, I can’t touch it … Guess what. If it’s not documented, it never happened.”

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