LANCASTER – When asked by the common pleas judge why he continued to illegally use state software, a former Baltimore police officer said he didn’t think what he was doing was wrong.
William Putnam Jr, 43, pleaded guilty to three counts of unauthorized use of property, each of them a fifth-degree felony.
Fairfield County Common Pleas Judge Richard Berens sentenced Putnam to serve five years of community control, with a reserved sentence of 18 months if he violates it. He will also have to serve 21 days of community service within six months of this sentencing and pay court costs.
According to court documents, Putnam used the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway on three separate dates between 2010 and 2016 to run background checks on potential employees for a business while he was a member of the Baltimore Police Department.
“And after the first time, was there any doubt that what you were doing was wrong?” Berens said.
Putnam said the background searches did not appear illegal because he had seen fellow employees using OLEG in similar instances.
When reached for comment, Baltimore Police Chief Mike Tussey refuted his department used the system for unauthorized uses. He said the only information the police could provide someone that approached them, with the proper paperwork, was if the subject in question had had contact with the BPD or not.
“They can’t be looking at the screen, they can’t see the paperwork. OLEG keeps track of the reports now, but even when we had the records ourselves, we couldn’t give any information out,” Tussey said.
He added an audit from the Law Enforcement Automated Data System and an investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation found the BPD was following policy.
Nicholas Fagnano, Putnam’s attorney, said he wanted the court to know that there was no malicious intent to Putnam’s misdeeds.
“These were done for someone with a relation by marriage. They were not random, they were not ex-girlfriends,” Fagnano said. “My client is sorry for his abuse of power and he knows it was an abuse of power.”
“It was a poor decision on his part. He’s already lost his career and his ability to work in law enforcement.”
Fagnano added that Putnam’s termination from the BPD was unrelated to these charges.
“I want the court to know I’m sorry. If I knew then what I know now, I would have had the people asking follow a different route,” Putnam said.
Berens said he had to consider that Putnam didn’t have any prior criminal history, that he had been a law-abiding citizen, contributing positively to society.
“On the other hand, it’s clear you broke the law and the trust of the public. The court can’t speak to anything the other officers did or didn’t do, but a light bulb should have gone off for you when you committed these crimes,” Berens said. “It’s put death on any kind of law enforcement career in your future.”
Read or Share this story: https://www.lancastereaglegazette.com/story/news/crime/2019/06/14/former-police-officer-found-guilty-illegally-using-state-software/1455384001/