Mike Gannon, chairman of the board of the Upper Cumberland Develop District, responded Friday to allegations contained in a federal lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Middle Tennessee District of Tennessee, Northeast Division, on Wednesday.
Gannon is Cannon County Executive and in that position serves on the UCDD board. Gannon has been chairman a little over a month.
A fired former employee of the UCDD, Ashley Pealer of Clay County, alleges in the lawsuit that the defendants, who also include the UCDD and interim director Randal (Randy) Williams, illegally hacked into personal messages contained in private Hotmail and Facebook accounts maintained by Pealer.
The defendants are accused of violating the federal Stored Communications Act, the federal Wiretap Act and Pealer’s rights under the Fourth Amendment.
Gannon said Friday he did not hack into any e-mail or Facebook account belonging to Pealer, he did not instruct anyone to hack into Pealer’s accounts, and he had no knowledge of anyone doing so.
Gannon said he has only seen text messages sent to and from Pealer's UCDD-issued phone, which was confiscated when she was fired on June 18.
“They (UCDD employees) went into her agency phone and computer about a week after she was terminated,” Gannon said.
Gannon added the lawsuit does not affect Cannon County Government or the citizens and taxpayers of Cannon County.
“Any attorneys fees will be paid out of the UCDD,” Gannon said. This (lawsuit) does not affect county money or business in any form or fashion.”
Gannon also said he was unaware of any investigation being conducted by a law enforcement agency in reference to the alleged hacking of any e-mail or Facebook account belonging to Pealer.
Pealer is seeking an amount of not less than $1,000 for each alledged violation, to be assessed against each defendant, an amount not less than $10,000 for violation of the Wiretap Act, punitive damages as provided under the Secured Communications Act, and damages for the deprivation of her rights as guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment.
Pealer was fired, along with her mother, Kathy, in June, about a week after Williams was named interim director. Gannon said he was became board chairman after the Pealers were fired.