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Legislator to question terminated employee’s access to county computer

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LOWVILLE — A Lewis County legislator says that since learning former trails coordinator Robert C. Diehl was given access to his former office and computer last week, he has too many questions to remain silent.

“I want to know who authorized this,” said Paul M. Stanford, D-Watson. “I want to know why they allowed this when there is still a criminal case pending.”

Mr. Diehl, who was fired in February for alleged misconduct, has yet to appear in Lewis County Court on charges of third-degree grand larceny, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and official misconduct.

“I have a right to ask these questions,” Mr. Stanford said. “I’m not letting anyone hide anything from the people.”

He said he plans to bring these questions to his fellow legislators at tonight’s board meeting.

Mr. Stanford said someone tipped him off that Mr. Diehl had been allowed inside his former office.

“If I hadn’t gotten that phone call on Friday, I wouldn’t know about this,” Mr. Stanford said.

Mr. Stanford contacted Legislature Chairman Michael A. Tabolt, R-Croghan, who verified that Mr. Diehl was approved for the office access by County Manager David H. Pendergast and county attorney Richard J. Graham.

In a phone interview Monday evening, Mr. Tabolt said Mr. Diehl was approved for the access “to get a little bit of information he requested.” The information pertained to future employment, Mr. Tabolt said.

Though he was not present during Mr. Diehl’s visit, Mr. Tabolt said, Mr. Diehl was monitored during the time he had access to the office.

“We’ll clarify all of this with Paul tomorrow,” Mr. Tabolt said Monday.

When Mr. Graham was informed Monday that Mr. Stanford planned to bring his concerns to the board, he responded, “I don’t believe the legislator has all the facts.” Mr. Graham did not offer any further explanation.

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