‘Nasty’ e-mail to Phelps sent from city computer

Published 11:06 am Saturday, December 3, 2011

FRANKLIN—A “nasty” email sent to outgoing Isle of Wight County Sheriff Charles Phelps originated from a city computer, Franklin City Manager June Fleming said Thursday.

Fleming couldn’t identify the department because the city server inside the Franklin Police Department serves other city departments.

Finance Director Melissa Rollins, who heads up the city’s information technology department, confirmed Friday the main server handles all departments.

“We don’t know what particular computer or what particular person sent it,” Fleming said.

The message sent to the Phelps campaign in October was sent from an AOL email address, which also makes it harder to trace, Fleming said. The city made an unsuccessful attempt to go through AOL.

“I don’t want to say they can’t do it, but they didn’t give it a high priority,” she said.

The said city staff is working to avoid similar incidents by strengthening Internet security.

The email Phelps described as “nasty” was titled “Your a Jerk.” It was sent to his campaign email address in response to a “testament” the six-term sheriff posted on his website in September during a heated campaign. Phelps on Nov. 8 lost the election to Smithfield Police Chief Mark Marshall.

Jason Gray, the county’s director of information technology, traced the email to the Franklin Police Department.