Ex-Avon supervisor says file deletion was done as 'favor' to her

  • Shirley Christian

    Shirley Christian

  • Sam Yingling

    Sam Yingling

Published: 7/1/2009 3:53 PM

All of the files on former Avon Township supervisor Shirley Christian's government computer were erased by her daughter and a friend before she departed office, according to a recently released report.

Karen Christian-Smith and Greg Koeppen were named as the people who deleted the computer files May 15 in the document issued by new Avon Township Supervisor Sam Yingling. No one has been charged with wrongdoing.

Lake County state's attorney's office investigators began looking into the computer file deletion at Yingling's request after he took office May 18. Investigators working on the case couldn't be reached for comment.

Christian contends her daughter and Koeppen were trying to help her when they accidentally deleted the files.

Koeppen is the Lake County Farm Bureau's manager and was treasurer for Christian's political slate, Committee to Elect Avon One. Christian-Smith is executive director of the Grayslake Area Chamber of Commerce, a post her mother formerly held.

Christian said she meant to remove from the township supervisor's computer only e-mail addresses and other personal information that wouldn't be valuable to Yingling. She said she sought assistance for the task from her daughter and Koeppen while all were in Avon Township's Round Lake Park office.

"They did it as a favor to me," Christian said this week. "They were there. They have computer knowledge."

Christian-Smith said she's read Yingling's report, but declined further comment. Koeppen didn't return telephone messages.

In the document issued last month, Yingling wrote that Christian-Smith and Koeppen used Active KillDisk hard-drive eraser on the supervisor's computer. KillDisk information attached to the report states the product destroys all data on hard and floppy drives.

"The report was 100 percent factual and it was all information that was obtained from the state's attorney's office," Yingling said.

Christian has said she told prosecutors the disk was more powerful than expected and inadvertently deleted everything on the computer. Yingling's document distributed to Avon's town board states Christian relayed the involvement of Koeppen and her daughter to investigators after a follow-up interview last month.

Township trustees appointed Christian as supervisor in 2006 after health problems forced her husband, Russell, to depart the job after 17 years. Yingling defeated Christian in the April election.

Avon Township includes all or part of Grayslake, Hainesville, Third Lake and the Round Lake area.

In nearby Island Lake, former village clerk Christine Becker is accused of destroying computer files in her office April 7, 2005, two days after she was defeated in a bid for re-election.

Becker has pleaded not guilty to official misconduct and computer tampering. Her case is pending in Lake County circuit court.