Employee Takes Nerves out on Computer Files

By: Gerri L. Elder

Marie Cooley had a job at Steven E. Hutchins Architects, but for some reason, she decided to browse the classified ads “help wanted” section in the newspaper. That may have been her undoing.

Cooley found an employment classified ad that she believed to be placed by her employer, and she thought that the firm was actively looking to replace her. Her assumption was based on the fact that the job listing had her boss’ phone number as a contact and the job description seemed similar to her position.

Wasting no time after reading the ad, Cooley jumped to conclusions and took action. Believing that she was about to be fired by the company, she reportedly became enraged about her potential unemployment and decided to proactively get revenge on the firm.

Late one night, Cooley reportedly went into the offices of Steven E. Hutchins Architects in Mandarin, Florida, and used her account to access the company’s data server. From there she went on a destructive rampage and deleted seven years’ worth of the firm’s architectural drawings, wiping the server clean of approximately $2.5 million in files.

The firm quickly realized what had happened, fired Cooley and told police where to find her. When police questioned Cooley, she admitted that she had deleted the files because she thought the company was going to fire her. She was arrested and charged with a second degree felony. Her vindictive acts could land her in prison for five years if her criminal defense attorney can’t arrange a plea bargain.

Luckily for Steven E. Hutchins Architects, the deleted files were able to be recovered by a data recovery specialist. It was allegedly costly and took a lot of effort, but fortunately the files were not gone for good. Now the firm has every one of the drawings back. They have learned an expensive lesson, and will now keep backups of all of their data out of reach of their employees.

And now for the irony: Cooley was not about to be fired from the firm. The owner said that they had no intention of firing her and that the classified ad that she saw in the employment section of the newspaper was for a job opening at his wife’s company.

So now, for no other reason than a misunderstanding and a temper that got out of control, Marie Cooley has a criminal record with her fingerprints and mugshot on file. Had she simply had a rational discussion with her boss, rather than flying off the handle and resorting to criminal behavior, she most likely would not be in any trouble at all and most definitely would not be preparing for a criminal trial.

Presumably, now there will be two employment ads in the newspaper. One of which will actually be seeking an employee to replace Marie Cooley.