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DEA data thief sentenced to 27 months

Plundered law enforcement databases

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A 14-year veteran of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who fled to Mexico to avoid federal computer crime charges was sentenced in a federal court in Los Angeles on Monday to 27 months in prison for selling information on private citizens he plundered from sensitive law enforcement databases.

Emilio Calatayud, 36, admitted in a plea agreement last August to raiding a variety of systems to investigate claimants in over 100 workers compensation cases being handled by Triple Check Investigative Services for unnamed insurance carriers. Triple Check paid the former agent at least $22,500 for the data over a six year period ending in 1999, according to court records.

The purloined data came from three law enforcement computers to which Calatayud had otherwise lawful access: the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which maintains nationwide records on arrest histories, convictions and warrants; the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS), a state network that gives agents access to California motor vehicle records, rap sheets and fingerprints; and a DEA system called the Narcotics and Dangerous Drug Information System (NADDIS), described by a Justice Department Web page as a database of "over 3,500,000 individuals, businesses, vessels and selected airfields."

Some privacy advocates have cited the Calatayud case to highlight the risks posed by the growing number of law enforcement databases housing information on individuals, and made widely accessible with minimal security.

The prosecution was briefly derailed last February, when Calatayud skipped out on a $100,000 property bond on what was to have been his first day of trial. He fled to Mexico, where four months later he was picked up in Guadalajara by Mexican federal police acting on information developed by the United States Marshal's Service.

Officials haven't revealed how Calatayud was tracked down, but as part of the plea deal they agreed not to prosecute the former fed for kiting checks through his Bank of America account while a fugitive.

Prosecutors also dropped wire fraud and computer fraud charges in the agreement. Calatayud plead guilty to bribery, tax evasion and failing to appear in court.

In addition to the jail time, federal judge William J. Rea ordered Calatayud to pay a $5,000 fine.

©SecurityFocus.com

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