By TOM GIAMBRONI
LISBON - The company hired to resurrect former Columbiana County Treasurer Nick Barborak's office computer was unable to do so.
"I regret to inform you the computer hard drive you had us look at could not be recovered," wrote Michaela Pease in a June 6 email to county Auditor Nancy Milliken.
It was Milliken who received permission from county commissioners to spend up to $500 to hire a company to retrieve the information from Barborak's computer. This was done in an attempt to satisfy a public records request from county Republican Party Chairman David Johnson and Ohio Republican Party Chairman Robert Bennett. The pair are seeking, among other things, any emails between Barborak and current Treasurer Linda Bolon, both of whom are Democrats.
The computer has become a side issue in the larger controversy over the questionable management of a $5 million investment account in the treasurer's office during the period when Barborak was in office. He left office in January after being elected state representative, while Bolon was elected to replace him.
Less than three months after taking office, Bolon reported to commissioners she inherited a bookkeeping problem with the account that resulted in the county's investment income being overstated by $118,000.
During the course of trying to correct the problem, she also discovered the investment firm hired by the county investment advisory board on Barborak's recommendation made eight investments that exceeded the time limit allowed by law, making them technically illegal investments.
This led to the records requests, and Bolon was unable to fully comply because Barborak's desktop computer had crashed in mid-2012 and was junked after several in-house attempts to resurrect the hard drive failed. After the computer was located by Milliken, commissioners decided to retrieve the data, provided it was not too costly, and asked her to do handle that for them.
Milliken hired Infinite Synergy of Columbiana, which was unable to retrieve any information. "I was told they hooked it up to their equipment and if it makes any sound they'll detect it. Well, the machine did not detect any sounds," she said.
As for the computer, Milliken said it will remained locked away. "As far as I'm concerned, I'm done. I've done what I thought needed to be done and now it's locked up and will continue to be unless someone tells me otherwise," she said.
Meanwhile, the state auditor's office is continuing its probe into the investment account. The state was in the process of performing a routine state audit of the county's 2012 books when the investment controversy became public, and state examiners have been taking a specific look at the investment account as part of the audit.