The Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board issued a “public reprimand” against Former Floyd County Commonwealth’s Attorney Gordon Hannett for stealing three computer hard drives from computers in the county office after voters ousted him from office in 2007.
Hannett used taxpayer funds to buy new hard drives to replace the ones he removed from the computers but left the drives blank with no information to be accessed by incoming Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Shortt.
Shortt notified the State Police and turned the matter over to a special prosecutor who charged Hannett with three counts of larceny and computer crimes. Hannett cut a deal that allowed him to avoid conviction by reimbursing the county $3,500 for the cost of the hard drives and perform 100 hours of community service, which he served by picking up trash along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Hannett claimed he changed the drives to “upgrade” the office computer systems but did not save any of the information to a shared server. He said he was unable to install new operating systems on the drives but claimed all material on the drives were available on paper documents in the office.
Speculation around the courthouse suggests Hannett removed the drives because they contained information that could have proved embarrassing to the defeated county official, including images of nude women. Two current county officials have confirmed this to me. The former prosecutor was known to show off a collection of photos of naked women that he kept in his desk. It was widely known as the “breast book” and several of Hannet’s old acquaintances say the former prosecutor showed them the book.
If Hannett violates any ethics rules in the next year he could lose his legal license for 30 days. Since leaving the Floyd County job at the end of 2007, he has not landed at another law firm in the area but has worked for the U.S. Army as a reservist.
(Updated on Oct. 25)