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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Alabama

Friday, May 8, 2015

U.S. Attorney Charges Former Police Dispatcher for Unauthorized Use of Crime Computers

BIRMINGHAM -- Federal prosecutors today charged a former police dispatcher with unauthorized use of law enforcement computers for non-law enforcement purposes, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Craig Caldwell, and Alabama Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier.

The U.S. Attorney's Office charged DERRICK R. THOMAS, 38, of Warrior, with one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to query law enforcement databases between 2011 and 2014 while he worked as a dispatcher for the Gardendale Police Department. Thomas queried the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center and the National Crime Information Center on at least four individuals for other than law enforcement purposes at the request of someone who was not a law enforcement officer, according to the information filed in U.S. District Court.

Thomas has entered a plea agreement with the government acknowledging the actions charged and stating his intention to plead guilty. The plea agreement also was filed in court today.

The entity formerly known as ACJIC operates a data center to provide information to Alabama law enforcement and the criminal justice community. ACJIC, which operates in Montgomery, connects via a secure connection to criminal justice information systems for all 50 states, as well as NCIC. NCIC is an electronic clearinghouse of crime data maintained by the FBI and used by criminal justice agencies nationwide.

According to Thomas' plea agreement, he logged into the ACJIC/NCIC system on multiple occasions in order to gather and provide information to an acquaintance who was not a law enforcement officer. By doing so, Thomas engaged in unauthorized public dissemination of personal information. Thomas knew he was authorized to use the ACJIC/NCIC system only for law enforcement purposes and that accessing it for other purposes was a crime, according to the plea agreement.

The maximum penalty for unauthorized access to a protected computer is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The Secret Service investigated the case with the assistance of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Erica Williamson Barnes is prosecuting.

Updated May 8, 2015