Back-up documents placed in the custody of the 79th District Court

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

A former employee of Coastal Bend College has filed a court document in Jim Wells County raising allegations that officials with the college destroyed records in violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

Alice attorney Giancarlo Nisimblat filed the document in the 79th District Court on April 30, on behalf of Anthony Sanders.

The document filed is entitled "Application for appointment of receiver and tender of property to the registry of the court."

That application outlines allegations by Sanders, a former computer network supervisor for the college, that officials with the college shredded paper documents and deleted email records to keep them from being released to the public.

According to the application, on Feb. 9, Sanders was approached by director of personnel for the college Kathlyn Patton, who asked Sanders to back-up all emails on her computer. Patton told Sanders the reason for the back-up was that "I know they are starting to ask for emails," the application stated.

Sanders then made two backups of the information, giving one copy to Patton and keeping the other, according to the court document.

"(Sanders) believed that certain information was being wrongfully destroyed or deleted," the application stated. "Accordingly, (Sanders) believing that information might be wrongfully destroyed and consistent with CBC policy regarding the public status of such information, also copied and preserved additional emails after Patton asked for the original backup."

Two DVDs, containing the original back-up and the subsequent back-ups were included with the application to the court as "Exhibit One" and "Exhibit Two," according to court documents.

Sanders further alleged in the application that "a substantial number of paper documents may have been shredded and that items in electronic form may have been deleted" by college officials.

Sanders indicated that some of the destroyed information was requested by "a third party" in an open records request, but was not released. That third party was not identified in court documents.

The application tenders the records contained in the two DVDs to the custody of District Clerk R. David Guerrero and requests the court appoint someone to analyze the information to determine if any records were illegally withheld by the college.

Sanders ended his employment with the college on March 27, according to court documents.

Rito Silva, the director of CBC-Alice, said Wednesday he was aware of the allegations raised by Sanders, but said none of the events described occurred on the Alice campus.

A representative with Patton's Beeville office referred all questions concerning the court document to the college's attorney, Philip McKinney, Wednesday.

A message left with McKinney's office was not returned Wednesday.