- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 8, 2011

DENVER (AP) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has counseled or disciplined 24 employees who accessed pornographic sites on government computers between 2005 and 2010 as the financial system teetered and almost collapsed.

In a letter dated March 3, the SEC responded to a Freedom of Information Act request by Denver attorney Kevin D. Evans listing the offices of the employees. They were in Atlanta, Denver, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Fort Worth, Texas.

In addition to the federal employees, the SEC disclosed the names of contractors whose employees were investigated by the Office of the Inspector General. According to the letter, the contractors were: Labat-Anderson Inc., CACI International Inc., Garda Security Inc., Keane Federal Inc., and ISN Corp. Seven employees who worked for those contractors were investigated, but the SEC did not release their names.

The Denver Post first reported about the letter on its online edition Tuesday. A copy was obtained by The Associated Press.

A judge in December denied Evans‘ request that individual names be released following objections from the SEC and one of the employees that it was an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

Regional SEC Director Donald Hoerl did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Two of the five contractors did not immediately return messages left by The Associated Press.

During the court case to unseal the documents last year, SEC human resource director Jeffrey Risinger said that none of the employees who used their SEC computer to access porn sites is considered a high-ranking official or senior officer. He said three of the four supervisors who accessed porn are still with the SEC, and only one remains in a supervisory position.

The supervisors caught in the probe supervised between four and nine employees at the SEC, which has about 3,925 employees at offices nationwide, according to Risinger.

Disclosures filed in court by the SEC said that eight of the employees resigned, including a supervisor, six received suspensions ranging from a day to two weeks, while the remaining 10 SEC employees were either counseled or reprimanded.

A statement issued by Keane said it has a zero tolerance when it comes to violations of its code of business conduct, but declined further comment citing internal personnel matters. Michael John, a spokesman for holding company Altegrity Inc, said the allegation happened before it acquired Labat-Anderson Inc. in 2009 and has no record of the incident. Garda spokesman Joe Gavaghan said the company sold the portion of its business that provides security guards at government offices in June 2009 and has no record.

Evans, a white-collar and regulatory defense attorney in private practice, said he requested the documents on his own behalf after first learning of the OIG’s report last spring.

“This isn’t a moral crusade, what people do on their own time is their business,” Evans said. “But spending hours doing this at work? I don’t know how they could do their jobs… I consider it fraud.”

Court documents filed as part of Evans‘ FOIA case listed several websites that indicate they offer sexually explicit photographs or video of straight, fetish, or gay porn. An OIG report previously said that some employees spent hours on the sites.

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Associated Press writer Sheila V Kumar contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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