(12/16/2002)
Investigators have seized former state schools Assistant Superintendent G.A. McClung's computer and plan to review his e-mail messages, according to state education officials.

State Commission on Special Investigation agents have interviewed Department of Education employees about a vacation cruise McClung took last March. McClung says he paid for the vacation. "That's my personal life," he said."Hell, I've paid for it."

Department of Education employees are being investigated regarding their role in a $2.4 million classroom furniture deal McClung arranged for longtime friend Phillip "Pork Chop" Booth.

Booth's company, National Equity, sold the furniture and kitchen equipment after floods swept through schools in McDowell and Wyoming counties in July 2001.

Booth's company charged between two and four times the normal price for new furniture and equipment.

The Gazette-Mail requested McClung's e-mail messages on Dec. 3 under the Freedom of Information Act.

But Monday, investigators confiscated McClung's computer. They've promised to return the computer intact, state officials said.

McClung's phone logs show that Booth called him more than 100 times from April to October, sometimes three or four times a day.

Stewart may take personnel action against other department employees in the coming weeks.

"If there are employees in the Department of Education whose employment should be terminated due to wrongdoing, I have every confidence Dr. Stewart will take appropriate action," said school board President Howard Persinger Jr. in a prepared statement. "We are continuing our vigorous internal investigation."

The U.S. Attorney's Office is also investigating.


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