City of Carmel information technology manager Steve McInchak has been placed in the "impossible" position of defending himself against "innuendo" of criminal suspicion when police have made no allegations, his lawyer said Friday.
Salinas defense attorney Richard Rosen said McInchak was placed on paid administrative leave May 31 and told only that there was an investigation. On June 5, Carmel police detectives searched his Carmel Valley home.
City officials have been mum about the investigation, even declining to confirm McInchak, the subject of a report in Friday's Carmel Pine Cone, is the employee whose home was searched. Police Chief Mike Calhoun said he could not comment because the case involves an ongoing investigation and one or more city employees.
Carmel computer technician Rose Franzen is also on paid leave, a source confirmed.
McInchak's wife answered a call to his home on Friday. She said her husband has been instructed by the city, and Rosen, not to discuss the matter.
"It's not a very comfortable position to be in," Karen McInchak said. "It's a complicated, crazy mess."
A probable cause affidavit explaining the reasons for the search warrant was not available from Monterey County Superior Court on Friday. Nor was the search warrant return listing the items seized.
"We don't need to defend against implications or innuendos or rumors," Rosen said. "If they've got proof, let's see it. If they've got a (complaint), let's see it.
Rosen said the most specific information he has seen is a police log entry reported in Friday's Pine Cone that stated the investigation involved Penal Code 502(c)(2).
The section states it is a "public offense" to knowingly access and without permission take, copy or make use of any data from a computer, computer system or computer network.
"As IT director, (McInchak) had lawful computer access. This is what they paid him to do," Rosen said. "All of his contact with computers was pursuant to his job description and he didn't do anything illegal."
Calhoun defended his department's close-to-the-vest handling of the case.
"We are following the guidelines all agencies would follow regarding any criminal investigation that is a live investigation because we have to by law protect all parties involved," he said.
"We don't want to put out wrongful information that could jeopardize or hinder the investigation," Calhoun added. "The fact that it's a personnel matter makes it even more of a challenge."
Mayor Jason Burnett said he was advised by City Attorney Don Freeman not to comment, but said he is confident Calhoun and city officials have the right people investigating the case.
Rosen suggested one of the city officials may be behind the investigation.
Calls to Carmel City Hall were not returned Friday.
Virginia Hennessey can be reached at 753-6751 or email@example.com.