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Published: 11/15/2013 - Updated: 5 months ago

Sheriff’s office clerk charged with abusing state database

Woman accused of running illegal background checks

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Twice before, a records clerk for the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office was disciplined for running the names of co-workers through a criminal database.

After she allegedly was caught doing it a third time, the sheriff’s office fired her and a Lucas County grand jury indicted her for unauthorized use of the Law Enforcement Automated Database System — the statewide, computerized network known as LEADS.

Rebecca Szmania, 56, of 2225 Farm View Ct. is to be arraigned on the fifth-degree felony Wednesday before Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Michael Goulding.

“She was running people on LEADS that she shouldn’t have been running — for no reason,” Sheriff John Tharp said Thursday. “She was running them for her curiosity. There was no indication of any tangible gains. In my opinion, it was a mistake she had made.”

Many of the individuals whose records were allegedly checked were employees of the sheriff’s office or their family members, the sheriff said.

Rob Sarahman, an investigator with the sheriff’s internal-affairs unit, said Ms. Szmania was hired Jan. 2, 2001 as a clerk in the records bureau. Internal affairs records show she was given a written warning in 2002 for the same offense then suspended for 30 days without pay in 2011 after again running the names of fellow employees.

The infraction is a violation of the department’s work rules and can be a felony, although Detective Sarahman said no criminal charges were filed after the first two incidents.

Capt. Don Atkinson, who oversees the sheriff’s internal-affairs section, said employees with access to LEADS are shown a disclaimer on their computer every time they log on to the system that reminds them it is illegal to use the database for anything but legitimate law enforcement purposes.

Accessing the system for any other reason is a violation, he said, because it jeopardizes an individual’s personal information. Abuse of the system could result in LEADS terminating the sheriff’s office’s access to the database.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.



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