By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER
WASHINGTON (AP) - The IRS says Lois Lerner's computer hard drive was destroyed three years ago, ending any chance of retrieving her lost emails.
The IRS says in court papers filed Friday that the hard drive was destroyed in 2011 after two sets of trained technicians tried to retrieve the data. The tax agency says it was standard procedure to destroy old data storage equipment that may have contained confidential taxpayer information.
The IRS says Lerner's computer crashed that year, destroying an untold number of emails. At the time, Lerner headed the division that handles applications for tax-exempt status.
Lerner is a central figure in congressional investigations into the handling of applications by tea party groups.
A federal judge had ordered the IRS to explain what happened to the hard drive.