Someone from former Parish Attorney Mary Roper’s home hacked into the city-parish’s email server 17 times after she was fired Sept. 10, according to a warrant police investigators obtained to search her home Saturday.
Her home computer was logged into the server another 18 times between Aug. 21 and Sept. 8, while Roper was on administrative leave and was supposed to be denied access to city-parish accounts, according to the search warrant.
The warrant says the unauthorized access of the city-parish emails could be construed as computer tampering, a violation of state law.
Baton Rouge police opened an investigation after the Parish Attorney’s Office revealed that Assistant Parish Attorney Dawn Guillot’s email account had been accessed at 1:09 a.m. Oct. 13. An email from her account was forwarded to another city-parish employee. Guillot said she did not forward the email or authorize anyone to access her account, the warrant says.
Investigators tracked the IP address and determined the email had been forwarded from Roper’s home computer. They also found other instances where someone used her home computer to tap into the city-parish’s email server.
The search warrant requested the confiscation of “any records, papers, documents, computer equipment, laptop computers, desktop computers, electronic files, electronic storage media, tablets, cellular phones, router, cable modem, PDA’s or any other network capable device.”
According to the warrant, someone from Roper’s home accessed the email accounts of Guillot, acting Parish Attorney Lea Anne Batson and Assistant Parish Attorney Ashley Beck.
Roper’s home computer also accessed the account of her husband, Eiad Odeh, who also was a city-parish employee until he resigned Oct. 13, according to the warrant.
Roper issued a statement Monday through her attorney, Wade Shows, describing the incident as excessive and an act of intimidation stemming from “baseless allegations” that Roper “may have committed a misdemeanor.”
“Perhaps some of these individuals are disgruntled that Ms. Roper was able to rise to a position of power, or perhaps some of these individuals have issues in general with women that hold high positions of authority,” the statement said. “Regardless, the citizens of this city and this parish should be appalled at the manner in which the responsible individuals chose to have this search warrant executed,” the statement said.
The statement said at least 12 police officers were dispatched to her home Saturday to confiscate electronic devices, including her 8-year-old daughter’s iPod, and personal laptop and desktop computers. While police were searching Roper’s house, her daughter and her friends had set up an operation outside to donate Christmas toys to passersby.
“How demeaning is it for a mother to have to explain to her 8-year-old child why 12 or more police officers were rummaging through the contents of their house, including through Ms. Roper’s personal effects, on a Saturday afternoon,” the statement said. “A simple request to Ms. Roper would have negated the tremendous financial burden imposed on the taxpayers of this city resulting from the execution of the search warrant and cleared Ms. Roper of this accused wrongdoing.
“Instead, the individuals responsible for obtaining this law enforcement intervention chose to utilize their positions of authority to see to it that a family was both disturbed and intimidated on a Saturday afternoon,” the statement said.
Roper was fired in September by a vote of the Metro Council, following more than four months of public feuding and mudslinging between her and a faction of the council. Council members said they lost confidence in Roper and called into question her ability to manage the Parish Attorney’s Office.
Roper and her husband were linked by council members to an investigation into another city-parish employee who was accused of trying to sell copyrighted software. Roper apparently sent an email to her husband with source codes for the city-parish software program. She said it was her responsibility to get the program copyrighted, and she was asking her husband for technical help.
District Attorney Hillar Moore III has said Roper has never been investigated for wrongdoing by his office on this matter.
Roper since has fired off a litany of lawsuits against the city-parish and individual council members, challenging the process that resulted in her termination, and she has attempted to compel them to turn over their communications, which she has asked for via public record requests.
Her husband, who is of Arabic descent, also filed suit claiming racial discrimination on the job and defamation related to the copyrighted software issue. He worked for the city-parish’s Department of Public Works.