Two invoices from Elias Technologies to the City of Fairhope were recently given to The Courier and appear to show work equipment used by former city employees Sherry Sullivan and Jennifer Fidler were sent to be examined and searched by Elias, a IT forensics company, at the request of Fairhope Mayor Karin Wilson.
The invoices from the company both have the same invoice number, billing date and case title, but the details and amounts charged for the work differ between the two.
Official sources within the city have confirmed both invoices were sent to City Treasurer Deborah Smith, one original with a larger billing amount and a revised invoice sent at a later time.
The invoice number on both invoices is 452 and are dated April 10, 2017.
From the invoices
According to both invoices, the services began on Dec. 20, 2016 with a client meeting in Fairhope at Mayor Wilson’s residence with Wilson and officials from Elias Technologies. The original invoice billed the two-hour meeting at $250 per hour for a total of $500; the revised invoice shows two hours but the amount billed is set at $0.
- From Dec. 22, 2016 to Dec. 29, 2016, both invoices show work being done to create a statement of work to be presented to the city. Both invoices show 5.14 hours being billed for work during those times, but the billing differs between the two. The original invoice bills $1,285 in service during that period, but the revised invoice again shows the amounts set at $0.
At its Feb. 13 meeting, the Fairhope City Council approved a contract for professional IT services for the city’s police department with Elias Technologies for an amount not to exceed $35,000.
On Feb. 24, Wilson terminated the employment of Sullivan and Fidler.
- On Feb. 26, according to the original invoice, a two hour meeting was held with Mayor Wilson, Fairhope IT Director Jeff Montgomery, Fairhope Police Chief Joe Petties and Dan Dollarhide with Elias Technologies, where the statement of work for the police use was delivered and signed. The meeting lasted two hours and a $500 charge was created.
On the revised invoice’s description of the meeting, “meeting with Mayor” is the only descriptor used and the charge was set at $0.
- On the original invoice, another Feb. 26 entry said the following:
“Phone w/mayor. Pickup cell phone for examination/phone examination of Motorola i686 that was assigned to Jennifer Fidler (tagged “JENNIFER ID357 IMEI 001700955280890). Motorola device picked up from Jeff Montgomery’s office - Hard drive from Jennifer Fidler’s Computer picked up. Hard drive from Sherry Sullivan’s Computer picked up. Physical extraction of Motorola i686 attempted using Oxygen multiple times with failures.”
6.98 hours of work time were logged on the invoice, and the original invoice shows $1,745 in charges for that work.
On the revised invoice, the corresponding invoice entry says “Phone w/mayor. Pickup cell phone for examination/phone.” The billing hours are still set at 6,98 hours but the charge is set at $0.
- The next day, Feb. 27, the original invoice shows:
“Sullivan Hard drive imaging via FTK Imager (Seagate 500 gb SSHD, SN W761CZCW) - device failed to image after several attempts - possible drive failure.”
The hours spent that day total 1.67 for $417.50 in billing.
On the revised invoice, the corresponding listing reads:
“Hard drive imaging via FTK Imager (Seagate 500 - Research and writing revised IT policy guidelines and forms: SOW Item 3 several attempts - possible drive failure.”
The hours spent stayed at 1.67 but the charge was again set at $0.
- On Feb. 28, the original invoice reads:
“Imaging and analysis / meet with profancik for UFED - Fidler i686 Motorola transported to Pensacola, FL by vehicle for imaging using Celebrate UFED - physical image donloaded (sic) and transported back to office by vehicle. Fidler Har (sic) drive (Toshiba 500gb SN 628DP6CGT) imaged using FTK imager for later analysis.”
2.42 hours of work were done for a total billing of $605 that day.
On the revised receipt, the description reads:
“Imaging and analysis / meet with profancik for UFED - Motorola transported to Pensacola, FL for imaging using Celebrate UFED - physical image donloaded (sic) and transported back to office by vehicle. Fidler Har (sic) drive (Toshiba 500gb SN 628DP6CGT) imaged using FTK imager for later analysis.”
The hours spent stayed the same but the charge was set at $0.
- On March 1, the original invoice said:
“Work on damaged Sullivan hard drive for image extraction - drive attached via workstation directly, imaging process complete with noted errors in all clusters - no data extracted from imaging process”
The total hours worked were 1.8 for $450 in charges.
On the revised invoice, the description says:
“Work on damaged hard drive for image extraction - drive attached via workstation directly, imaging process complete with noted errors in all clusters - no data extracted from imaging process”
The hours worked stayed the same, but the charge was reduced to $0.
- On the March 2 entry, both invoices show a phone call with Mayor Wilson “requesting updates on Hard drive and Telephone searches.” Both invoices show 0.25 hours spent, with the original invoice billing showing $62.50 and the revised invoice billing showing $0.
- On the March 6 entry, the original invoice says:
“phone call with Mayor Wilson requesting search of Fidler computer for information from time frame of April 2016 to February 2017.”
0.35 hours were billed at an amount totaling $87.50.
On the revised invoice, the description says:
“phone call with Mayor Wilson requesting search of computer for information.”
The hours billed stayed the same, but the amount was set at $0.
An additional March 6 entry has “notes from previous activities typed” on both invoices at 0.85 hours, but the original invoice shows a charge of $212.50 while the revised invoice shows a $0 charge.
- On the March 10 entry, the original invoice says:
“Fidler Hard drive image loaded into Magnet for image analysis for keyword and email address provided by Mayor Wilson via text message - Fidler image was loaded in Magnet and searched for time frame requested by Mayor (4/2016 - 2/2017). Report produced containing all results for the requested times.”
The hours shown were 2.07 for a charge of $517.50.
On the revised invoice, the description says:
“Hard drive image loaded into Magnet for image analysis for keyword and email address. Report produced containing all results for requested times.”
The hours shown stayed the same, but the charge was set at $0.
- The March 20 entry on both invoices shows “reporting on computer search.” Both show 0.65 hours of work, but the charge on the original invoice shows $162.50 while the revised invoice shows $0.
- The March 23 entry on both invoices shows a telephone conference with Elias officials to get final numbers for the Fairhope Lab proposal. Both show 2.25 hours of work. The original invoice shows a charge of $562.50; the revised invoice shows a $0 charge.
- The March 24 entry reads as follows on both invoices:
“Additional printing and binding of second proposal copy to deliver to Mayor’s Office at her request. Proposals delivered to Chief of Police and Mayor’s office.”
Both invoices show 2 hours of work. The original invoice shows a charge of $500; the revised invoice shows a $0 charge.
- The April 4 entry on both invoices shows research and writing IT policy guidelines was done. Both invoices show 3.65 hours of work. The original invoice shows $912.50 in charges; the revised invoice shows a $0 charge.
- The April 5 entry on both invoices shows 3 hours of work on research and writing proposed IT policy guidelines. The original invoice shows $750 in charges; the revised invoice shows $0 in charges.
- The April 6 entry on both invoices shows 2.25 hours of work on “edit, finalize, print, bind IT Policy guidelines.” The original invoice shows $562.50 in charges; the revised invoice shows $0.
The original invoice ends with the April 6 entry and shows a balance due of $9,832.50.
The revised invoice has entries from April 11, two on April 13, and one on May 1, despite the invoice showing a submission date of April 10 on the first page.
The four additional entries on the revised invoice discuss IT policy guidelines that reference the Statement of Work Item 3 for the police department and total 14.1 hours of work.
For the first time on the revised invoice, charges other than $0 are shown for the work.
The April 11 entry shows a $1,000 charge a “meeting and discussion with Mayor, Montgomery, Petties, Hollingead at City Hall: SOW Item 3.”
The first April 13 entry shows a $1,187.50 charge for “research and writing requested revisions to policy guidelines proposal: SOW Item 3” and the second April 13 entry shows a $337.50 charge for the same.
The May 1 entry shows a $1,000 charge for “rewriting proposal documents to accommodate changes advised by Mayor regarding staffing availablity.”
The balance due on the revised invoice is $3,525.
Questions from staff, officials
One city employee raised questions as to why a contract for the police department to use for IT services was being used to search former employees’ devices at the request of the mayor.
“Nowhere does it mention that Chief Petties or the police department are involved in those searches,” the employee said. “Why were police resources being used to investigate those two former employees? Why is a city contract being used to target employees with whom the mayor has a problem?”
According to a claim filed with the city of Fairhope by Human Resources Manager Pandora Heathcoe, Filder was a witness to an alleged assault committed on Heathcoe by Mayor Wilson.
Another official questioned whether there was need for an investigation into whether public funds had been misused.
“It gives the appearance that in light of recent events, specific individuals may have been targeted with money that was allocated for police use, and it has been confirmed the police had no involvement with these two individuals,” the official said.
The Courier has also confirmed with the city of Fairhope and county officials that neither Sullivan nor Fidler were the subjects of any criminal investigation.
The official went on to question why two invoices were supplied with different details.
“It looks like it was done to hide the details of the first invoice, which raises many questions that need to be answered,” the official said.
When asked by The Courier about the invoices, Wilson said she had gone over the details of one of them with City Treasurer Deborah Smith and that the company had been hired by her to meet with the police department and IT department to help with technology needs for the city.
Wilson said she had limited involvement in dealing with the company and said she would need to speak with an attorney before discussing more.
“This is something that needs to be discussed with an attorney, as I don’t know how sensitive the information is,” Wilson said.