Debate Brewing Over Mishandled Confidential Files

June 25, 2013 Updated Jun 25, 2013 at 6:51 PM EDT

By WKBW Admin

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June 25, 2013 Updated Jun 25, 2013 at 6:51 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW)- The Erie County Comptroller and the Erie County Executive are at odds over mishandled confidential documents, with both accusing the other of wrong doing. Back in April, the county realized confidential documents with the Department of Social Services were being improperly stored and at times wrongly discarded. This allowed private information to be made public through the trash. An audit by the comptroller showed copies of private records including copies of birth certificates, passports, tax and medical records were left unsecured in the sub-basement in the Rath Building or by a loading dock, with the unshredded papers left for recycling.

The county told legislators today it has since made even stricter privacy guidelines and has secured the documents into a locked facility in the sub-basement of the Rath Building. The Deputy County Executive says there's no evidence any information was actually taken, but claims the comptroller had a staffer take sensitive material improperly for his audit and has surveillance footage to prove it.

"It was obtained using deception, using a worker, who told them they were reclaiming what belonged to the comptroller," said Deputy Erie County Executive Richard Tobe.

The comptroller says he's willing to work with the county to resolve the issue, but insists the county is still refusing access on necessary documents to help complete his audit on the temporary assistance unit of social services.

"What we wanted to do is compare the actual hard copy of records against computer files to determine if they match and at this point in time, the administration is still putting up a huge brick wall and not allowing our auditors to look at these files," said Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw.

The county says if the documents are not given back, they will take legal action. Both sides are working with the county attorney to try and avoid legal action.