By Andrea Estes and Peter Schworm
Boston Globe Staff
May 6, 2009
Police from communities across the state have repeatedly tapped into the
state's criminal records system to improperly access information on
celebrities and "high-profile citizens," according to a scathing audit
released yesterday that also branded the system as obsolete and flawed.
Law enforcement personnel looked up personal information on Patriots
star Tom Brady 968 times - seeking anything from his driver's license
photo and home address, to whether he had purchased a gun - and auditors
discovered "repeated searches and queries" on dozens of other
celebrities such as Matt Damon, James Taylor, Celtics star Paul Pierce,
and Red Sox owner John Henry, said two state officials familiar with the
The Criminal Offender Record Information system, with its massive
databases of criminal records, driving histories, car ownership, and
Social Security numbers, is intended to provide police and prosecutors
with complete portraits of individuals who have been arrested or brought
into the court system. Reports are available to other users such as
landlords and some employers conducting background checks on prospective
tenants and job seekers. Access is supposed to be restricted to
authorized law enforcement users, who are specially trained.
But the yearlong review by state Auditor A. Joseph DeNucci depicts a
system repeatedly accessed by users "without any apparent work-related
Such unauthorized use could be considered fraud under federal law, and
"disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal and/or criminal
prosecution" could follow misuse of the system, DeNucci's audit said.
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