The Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board has imposed a public reprimand with terms on former Floyd County Commonwealth’s Attorney Gordon Earl Hannett Jr.
The reprimand stemmed from the removal and destruction of three computer hard drives in the prosecutor’s office by Hannett just before he left office and was replaced in January 2008 by Stephanie M. Shortt.
After he removed the hard drives, he used public money to buy three new hard drives to replace them, according to an agreed disposition between Hannett and the disciplinary board.
Hannett said he removed and replaced the hard drives to upgrade the three office computers.
However, he attempted, but was unable to reinstall the operating systems or software on the new hard drives.
Hannett did not save any information from the three hard drives to a shared server, but he said he left all corresponding paper documents in their case files.
When Shortt took office, she was unable to access any information on the computers and called in the county computer expert and Virginia State Police to analyze the computers.
A special prosecutor was appointed, and Hannett was charged with three counts each of petit larceny and disabling computer software.
The criminal charges were resolved by Hannett’s payment of $3,500 as reimbursement for the hard drives and the performance of 100 hours of community service. The criminal charges also were expunged.
Under the terms of the public reprimand, the disciplinary board would suspend Hannett’s license to practice law for 30 days if he violates any ethical rules in the next year.
By Alan Cooper