Former county commissioner charged with computer-related felony
A former county commissioner was charged with possession of computer data or computer programs belonging to another Thursday morning when he came to the Pocahontas County Courthouse.
Norman Alderman, who was a county commissioner from 1989 to 1992 was also a technology consultant for the Pocahontas County Board of Education for several years. He was fired from that position four years ago for insubordination.
During his employment there, Alderman said he made backups of several sets of records and may have taken those with him when he was ordered to leave the board office.
"I should have it," Alderman said.
Alderman said he admitted to having the records in a video on his web site asking that law enforcement officials in possession of his computers and other electronic records treat them with care so that the confidential information held there would not be leaked.
The charges against Alderman were brought based upon a complaint by the board of education that he was in illegal possession of confidential student and personnel information including: Social Security Numbers, dates of birth, information regarding conditions of students, students who qualify for free and reduced lunch, test scores, substitute teacher lists, special needs students and special education students.
In the complaint, the board of education says the data is "extremely confidential" and should not have been removed under any circumstances.
Alderman said he also kept records for other county school systems, including Greenbrier County.
He said he'd never looked at the data himself, if he did have it, but made the video plea so that Social Security Numbers, which he said should be kept off of the internet, would be protected.
Alderman was at the courthouse Thursday to retrieve computers, peripherals and other computer-related items that were confiscated from him in August when he was charged with two misdemeanors, stalking and harassing another by means of computer.
Those charges were dismissed Monday when a special magistrate found that Magistrate Kathy Beverage, who signed a search warrant for Alderman's home one day and requested recusal from the case the next, was not impartial when she signed the warrant. Alderman was accused of stalking and harassing county commissioner David Fleming because he repeatedly inquired of Fleming where he lived.
Fleming refused to answer Alderman during a county commission meeting, but later said he lived on Sheets Road in Green Bank. His complaint said Alderman's website had incited a "community watch" to determine where Fleming "went to bed at night and where he got up in the morning." Fleming's complaint said he was in fear for his safety.
Alderman was charged with those misdemeanors again Thursday under a new search warrant.
He was released on $10,000 property bond on the felony and on personal recognizance bonds on the misdemeanors.
Alderman, who has long represented himself in court, even in a hearing before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in connection with his firing, said he would seek the counsel of an attorney to defend him against the felony charge.
A conviction of the felony charge could result in fines up to $10,000, 10 years in prison, or both.