from the officer-unicorn dept
The evidence indicated that defendant's login was used when information regarding LM, CG, and GL was accessed.The defendant, Taylor (MI) police officer Michael Calabrese, was originally charged with 11 counts of misusing the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN). This makes Calabrese somewhat of an anomaly. While every user of the LEIN is warned that improper access could result in criminal charges, this almost never actually happens. Suspensions may be handed out, but they tend to be minimal (three days at most). Others just receive written reprimands. Someone actually convicted of abusive access is a rarity.
LM testified that she met defendant through her job at a flower shop, and they dated for approximately two months. She never asked defendant to look up her driving or criminal records. However, defendant admitted to her that he "ran her name" and, during the search, learned of an accident in which she was involved. CG testified that she became acquainted with defendant because he frequented a bar where she worked. On one occasion, after CG and defendant had exchanged messages on Facebook, defendant gave her a ride home from a bar when she was intoxicated. Subsequently, she asked defendant to search her driving record, testifying at trial that she asked him to do so for her own personal use and gain. GL testified that she dated defendant "on and off" between 2009 and 2011. There is no indication that she ever asked defendant to search her driving record, and she was never stopped by defendant in a law enforcement capacity.
Calabrese appealed his convictions on several grounds, one of them being a lack of evidence. The Michigan Court of Appeals isn't sympathetic.
Despite the absence of direct eyewitness testimony that defendant searched the women's names on the LEIN, there is ample circumstantial evidence that he was the individual who performed the searches, as the queries at issue were performed using defendant's unique login. Although there was testimony that a LEIN search could be performed using another officer’s login information, such a search was against police department policy and occurred only under exceptional circumstances, such as during a situation when officer safety was at risk. In these instances, there is no evidence that suggests that the LEIN searches giving rise to defendant’s convictions were necessary for officer safety.The verdict and sentence former officer Calabrese was challenging wasn't much. Of the eleven charges, only three misdemeanor counts stuck. Calabrese will now have to serve one year probation and pay $1,600 in fines. The probation time will be cut in half if Calabrese's payments remain on track. The punishment from the court doesn't amount to much. It's the loss of his law enforcement position that will probably hurt Calabrese more, but that may only last as long as his probation does. Law enforcement agencies have proven more willing to forgive and forget than the private sector, which often refuses to employ ex-cons under any circumstances.
On this record, even though the prosecution did not present a witness who observed defendant performing the searches or who had personal knowledge of defendant's specific intent when the searches were performed, there was sufficient circumstantial evidence for the jury to reasonably infer that defendant intentionally ran the searches for his own personal benefit, as the searches were made using his login information and involved women with whom he had a personal connection.