Former Parish Attorney Mary Roper received a misdemeanor summons Wednesday, accused in the illegal access of Parish Attorney’s Office emails.
The summons is the result of a multiagency investigation into alleged email tampering and cybercrime activities, State Police Sgt. Nick Manale said in a news release late Wednesday.
The summons was issued after Roper, 49, of Baton Rouge, met Wednesday afternoon with State Police investigators, he said.
The investigation began in October, when a complaint of suspicious email activity originating from the East Baton Rouge Parish Attorney’s Office was received by the Baton Rouge Police Department and brgov.com network administrators, Manale said.
The complaint alleged an unauthorized email was sent between illegally accessed email accounts belonging to several parish attorneys, he said.
State Police detectives and cyberanalysts assigned to the Louisiana State Police Fusion Center assumed control of the investigation as an independent outside agency, Manale said.
The investigators discovered three email accounts belonging to attorneys for the Parish Attorney’s Office that were illegally accessed more than 40 times, he said. Detectives determined the illegal access originated from a home IP address belonging to Roper.
Investigators also uncovered evidence indicating use of Roper’s personal computer to illegally access the Parish Attorney’s Office email system through a proxy service designed to mask the user’s actions and location, Manale said.
Roper is alleged to be in violation of one count each of offenses against intellectual property, computer tampering and online impersonation, he said.
Roper did not respond to requests Wednesday for comment.The Metro Council fired Roper last September after some members accused her of unprofessional conduct, including recording private conversations and not working full time at her job.
After she was fired, investigators searched her house in December looking for evidence that she illegally accessed the Parish Attorney’s Office email server multiple times.
Roper had worked in city-parish government for 21 years and advanced to become the city’s top lawyer. Her dismissal was a messy affair that stretched on for a period of months.
Roper’s saga began in April 2014, when she was asked to take a leave from her office as an investigation was conducted into a city-parish employee trying to sell copyrighted software as his own.
Some council members questioned whether Roper had inappropriately shared proprietary information after she sent an email to her husband, a software developer, with the source codes to the software in question. Roper said she was simply asking her husband for assistance on a technical issue.
In a move that intensified the simmering antagonism between the city-parish government’s top lawyer and a faction of the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council, Roper fired off a public records request to review emails, texts and social media correspondences of five council members.
Roper’s attorney, Wade Shows, had said she was making a legitimate request for public documents in an effort to defend herself at an employment hearing on June 18.
Most of the accusations thrown at Roper came from Metro Councilman Chandler Loupe, who had said DWIs were backlogged and that Roper did not work full time, noting her parking log. He also said she recorded a private conversation with Loupe.
She denied Loupe’s claims and said she had recorded the conversations to protect herself. She also accused Loupe of asking her to step down in 2009 so he could hire one of his friends to serve as parish attorney.
Roper filed suit against the Metro Council in August last year, before the council’s vote to remove her. She asked the district court to declare that she was not an at-will employee and that the Metro Council did not have sufficient grounds to fire her.
She lost that case in state court and was fired in September 2014, following more than four months of public feuding and mudslinging between her and a faction of the council.
Then in December, police investigators obtained a warrant to search Roper’s home after detectives discovered someone used her home computer to access the city-parish’s email server a number of times after she was fired. Authorities obtained the search warrant after two Parish Attorney’s Office employees accused Roper of hacking into their computers in September 2014.
Roper’s attorney had said at least a dozen police officers were dispatched to her home to confiscate electronic devices, including her 8-year-old daughter’s iPod, and personal laptop and desktop computers.
Roper since has filed several 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.