A former state employee accused of stealing Social Security numbers from thousands of Metro teachers had been warned about his computer security, the Channel 4 I-Team learned Friday.
Steven Hunter, 24, was arrested Thursday night on an identity theft trafficking charge. Detectives said Hunter, who goes by his middle name Thor on Facebook, was planning to sell the Social Security numbers.
"I think it's a situation where this person's moral outlook was not what it should have been in terms of his understanding of the responsibility that he had," said State Treasurer David Lillard Jr.
According to Hunter's personnel file, which the I-Team examined on Friday, he was warned on Nov. 4 about protecting his laptop at work. Hunter was supposed to lock up his computer but did not.
"Steven was informed at this time how important the Treasury Department considers the safe guarding of our equipment and information," said the note from Nov. 4 in Hunter's file.
The Channel 4 I-Team also learned Friday that Hunter was a substitute teacher for Metro Schools for two years prior to being hired by the Department of Treasury.
"He was not one who took direction very well, had felt he had his own method of doing things, leaving his computer out and other issues," said Lillard.
Police said the Hermitage man stole the personal information of approximately 6,300 Metro teachers, including Social Security numbers and birth dates, earlier this month while working at the state Department of Treasury.
Hunter allegedly sent them to his personal email account from his work email account.
Someone became suspicious of Hunter, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation started investigating.
The TBI got a warrant for Hunter's home computer and said they found not only the Social Security numbers, but said Hunter was looking up how to sell Social Security numbers and articles on identity theft cases.
According to the affidavit, Hunter denied selling any of the files.
The TBI said there is no evidence that Hunter, who graduated from MTSU with a degree in economics and political science, sold any of the personal information he obtained.
His personnel file showed he resigned one day before his home was raided by the TBI on Dec. 13.
"You know at the end of the day, any employee in any situation, it comes down to their personal honesty and integrity," said Lillard. "No amount of controls, they can always be evaded in some fashion if it's a smart individual like this person was."
Attempts to reach Hunter for comment were unsuccessful.
At this time it isn't clear if there is any connection between his employment as a former substitute Metro teacher and the fact that he's accused of improperly accessing information on Metro teachers from the state.
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