Wednesday, June 14, 2000

Crime computer misused, panel rules

Butler investigator checked on boss' political opponent

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — A state probe has found that a Butler County prosecutor's investigator misused Ohio's crime information computer when he ran checks on his boss' political opponent.

        On Tuesday, officials in Columbus said the prosecutor's office was required to take “immediate corrective actions,” including instituting new policies and counsel ing J.C. Kristanoff, who asked Trenton police to obtain data on Robin Piper, the Republican candidate for prosecutor.

        Mr. Piper's name and/or Social Security number were checked on request of Mr. Kristanoff, an investigator for Prosecutor John F. Holcomb.

        However, because the prosecutor's office has already taken the recommended steps, no further sanctions are being taken, said Lt. Jim Hamilton of the Ohio State Highway Patrol committee that oversees use of the Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) computer.

        “I'm very saddened. I'm always saddened to hear that somebody in a position of power and authority has been determined to have misused that power and authority,” Mr. Piper said Tuesday.

        “We still haven't been given a truthful explanation as to what occurred,” he said, “and the public in Butler County still has not received the accountability that they need from the leadership in the prosecutor's office.”

        Mr. Holcomb didn't return a telephone call seeking comment and has ignored The Cincinnati Enquirer's requests for public documents related to the LEADS probe.

        About a half-dozen other individuals suspected their information had been misused in Butler County, but no other misuse was found, Lt. Hamilton said.

        Mr. Kristanoff has said he did the checks on Mr. Piper by accident while investigating a case.

        “Whether it was intentional or not, it still was a misuse of the system,” Lt. Hamilton said. Use of LEADS is supposed to be limited to law-enforcement purposes.

        “It appears to me that J.C. Kristanoff is the fall guy for John Holcomb,” Mr. Piper said.


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