DEA Data Thief Pleads Guilty

Mike McDonald

New member
This is the sort of stuff that scares me about the information our government routinely collects on all citizens.

Fed who fled to Mexico faces up to two years in custody for peddling law enforcement database.
By Kevin Poulsen, Aug 5 2002 6:29PM

A 14-year veteran of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration plead guilty Monday to selling sensitive data from federal law enforcement computers to a Los Angeles private investigations firm working for the insurance industry.

Emilio Calatayud, 35, admitted in a plea agreement to raiding federal databases to check out claimants in over 100 workers compensation cases being investigated by Triple Check Investigative Services for unnamed insurance carriers, accepting $22,500 in cash bribes over six years.

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.

"When you have all this aggregation of data in these large databases, with literally hundreds of thousands of people with access to it at the same time, it creates a situation where data is vulnerable," said James Plummer, director of the libertarian National Consumer Coalition's Privacy Group last month. "These federal agents aren't all saints. And the more information on citizens that's in there, the more likely that things like this are going to happen."

The case was investigated by the DEA's Office of Professional Responsibility, the IRS, the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service, and prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office in Los Angeles and the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section in Washington, D.C.

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 he was picked up by Mexican federal police four months later in June. Prosecutors 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 crime charges in the agreement. Calatayud plead guilty to bribery, tax evasion and failing to appear in court. Sentencing is set for November 18th, when he faces 12 to 24 months in custody under federal sentencing guidelines.