.

Ex-Easton Schools Tech Director Target of Search Warrant

Tom Drago, who resigned as EASD technology head last year, is suspected of invasion of privacy, wiretapping violations.

Police suspect former Easton Area School District employee Tom Drago accessed his colleague's computers without their permission, copied documents that may have contained student information, made an unauthorized recording of a closed school board meeting, and may have taken photos of a female school employee's breast, according to a search warrant filed by Forks Township Police.

Forks Township police began investigating Drago—who no longer works for the school district—earlier this year. Drago was in charge of technology for the school district for 11 years.

So far, Drago—who helped draft the district's policy on acceptable use of technology and Internet before his resignation last year—has not been charged with any crime.

"The investigation is in its infancy and it is not yet determined what crimes, if any have been committed or by whom," Forks Police Chief Greg Dorney said in a statement Monday.

Police last Friday seized two computers as part of the investigation: one from the school district offices, the other from Drago's home in Bushkill Township.

According to the search warrant, school officials went to police last month to report that Drago had "exceeded authorization to access numerous computers of multiple directors and the superintendent."

The case began in October 2012, when Stephen Furst, the district's director of teaching and learning, was on his computer and noticed a binocular icon on the screen.

When he clicked on it, Drago's name appeared. Furst sent Drago a message, the warrant says.

“Tom, what are you doing?” Furst asked him. He got no response, but the binoculars disappeared.

The warrant says Furst wrote to Superintendent Susan McGinley, concerned that Drago had remotely accessed his computer. The district had another employee examine Drago's computer. She discovered that he had accessed McGinley's laptops as well as those of seven other district employees.

When confronted, Drago first denied accessing anyone's computer, the warrant says. Then he said he made a mistake. Then he said he had permission. The district suspended him with pay. 

The warrant says the district began to dig deeper, and hired Miles Technologies of Moorestown, N.J. to examine Drago's computer. 

The examiner, Mike Nelson, confirmed the district's earlier findings. Drago had accessed other employee's computers hundreds of times without permission, and may have accessed and copied student files.

The examination also found 70 photos of nude women.

“It is not confirmed at this time if some of the nude images may potentially be of minors," the warrant says.

In addition to those pictures, there were two photos showing a woman's breast and cleavage, believed to be a school employee.

If Drago took the photo with a webcam without the woman's consent, it would constitute a violation of the state invasion of privacy law.

The warrant says the examination also found a recording of an April 2012 school board meeting that was not open to the public, and had been made without the consent of the participants, who included board members, school employees, and district offiicals.

According to the warrant, the examiner found that Drago had hidden the audio file of this recording and the pornographic images on his computer by running two operating systems at once. 

Drago came to work for the district in January 2002. Prior to that, he worked for 20 years at the Phillipsburg School District.

The school board voted to accept Drago's resignation on December 10 of last year. According to the agenda from that meeting, his last day was Jan. 31, the same day police sought the search warrant.

School board member Frank Pintabone said Tuesday he was aware the computers had been seized, but declined to comment beyond that. Administration officials did not return calls for comment. 

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something