SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — A California Highway Patrol officer has been charged with illegally using a confidential law enforcement database to provide vehicle information to a friend who owned a car registration service, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said Friday.
Todd Steaffens, 43, has been charged with three misdemeanor counts of computer access and fraud and three misdemeanor counts of disclosing Department of Motor Vehicle information without authorization.READ MORE: French Bulldogs Rescued From China Arrive In Southland
Between February 2020 and July 2020, prosecutors allege Steaffens used a CHP computer at the Westminster office to unlawfully access the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System to provide information to a friend about vehicles he was interested in buying for his company, Pacific Automotive Services in Los Angeles.READ MORE: With California Wildfire Activity Already Up 700%, Authorities Urge Homeowners To Prepare Their Homes, Evacuation Plans
Information obtained from the system — which provides law enforcement access to national databases maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Motor Vehicles and others — can only be used for official law enforcement purposes, the D.A. said.
“This conduct of misuse of an official confidential law enforcement database to run a friend’s prospective car purchase has to be about the dumbest thing an officer can do to jeopardize his career and criminal record,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement. “Even minor transgressions such as these must be prosecuted because they are unlawful and still rises to the level of abuse of power.”MORE NEWS: Pregnant Mom Who Battled COVID, Lost Father To The Virus Is Looking Forward To Mother's Day With Infant
Steaffens, who has worked for CHP since 2007, faces a maximum sentence of three years in the Orange County Jail if convicted as charged, according to the D.A.’s office.