News

Judge's computer still under investigation

From staff reports:

The Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) continues to investigate a complaint against Federal Way Municipal Court Judge Michael Morgan.

On Aug. 7, the commission received a complaint that alleges a computer found in Morgan's personal office was used to claim the identity of a clerk in his court, then respond to fellow judicial candidates' election blogs on The Mirror's Web site and the Tacoma News Tribune's Web site, according to a complaint filed by Federal Way police interim chief Andy Hwang.

The PDC hopes to complete the investigation before the Nov. 3 general election, according to a report in the Tacoma News Tribune. The PDC is reviewing security camera footage, computer records and door entry logs, the report said.

State campaign laws prohibit the use of city equipment and computers for election purposes. Morgan has denied any involvement with the Internet postings, saying he is a victim of "cyber tricks." Morgan is running for re-election against Rebecca C. Robertson for one of two judge positions in November.

Read the original report and the city's analysis of computer activity by clicking here.

Background

On Aug. 4, court clerk Christine Faucher reported to police and city staff that her identity was fraudulently used to create Internet accounts with the two newspapers. Faucher's name, birthdate (though off by one year) and information associated with her interests and place of employment were used to create the accounts.

According to the timeline of Internet activity from Aug. 3 on Morgan's computer, as provided by the city of Federal Way's IT personnel:

• Morgan was logged in under his name at 8:01 a.m. At 8:04 a.m., Internet browsing began while logged in under an account for temporary employees. A post to candidate Matthew York's online blog was made at 8:11 a.m. Internet browsing under Morgan's name began again at 8:43 a.m.

• At 9:56 a.m., Internet browsing began again under the temporary employee login. At 10:08 a.m., a post was made to candidate Williams Jarvis' site (the post was made twice). Internet browsing under Morgan's name began again at 11:26 a.m.

• At 11:42 a.m., Internet browsing began again under the temporary employee login. At 11:44 a.m., the user registered for an account with the Tacoma News Tribune under Christine Faucher's name. The user logged off at 11:44 a.m., just seconds after the registration request. At 11:50 a.m., Internet browsing began under Morgan's name.

• At 7:18 p.m., an Internet page was retrieved while logged in under Morgan's name. The Internet page was the Washington State Legislature's file regarding RCW 42.17.130: "Use of public office or agency facilities in campaigns — Prohibitions — Exceptions."

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