Indictment hits ex-Marana cop with 27 charges - The Explorer: Pima Pinal

Indictment hits ex-Marana cop with 27 charges

Ingram accused of illegal searching

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Posted: Wednesday, December 30, 2009 12:00 am | Updated: 1:29 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

A former Marana police officer has been indicted on 25 felony computer-tampering charges and two felony charges of trafficking in the identity of another person.

Calvin Ingram, 39, who was with the Marana Police Department for more than 10 years, stands accused of exploiting his access to restricted databases to search the private information of at least 25 people. Law enforcement officials use the databases — Coplink, Spillman and others — to conduct criminal investigations.

Ingram's attorney said state investigators have exaggerated their case against his client, based largely on a lack of familiarity with how police work gets done.

"It's been my experience that prosecutors know very little about basic police procedures," said Michael Storie, Ingram's lawyer.

According to the indictment, at least two of the people Ingram searched have public profiles: former University of Arizona softball player Taryne Mowatt, and local television newscaster Heather Rowe. Authorities have not identified specific connections between Ingram and the people whose names he ran through the databases.

Ingram searched the databases, which house sensitive information such as driver's license numbers, home addresses and criminal histories, for non-law enforcement purposes, according to a release from Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard.

State officials also say Ingram shared the information with people not in law enforcement.

Assistant Attorney General Michael Jette is prosecute the case for the state in Pima County Superior Court.

Indictment documents say that Ingram used his work computer to illegally access personal information on people at least 89 times between October 2008 and September 2009.

Ingram's attorney said he was certain that most of the database searches his client conducted were legitimate, but allowed that some may have been for personal reasons.

"This is a very common policy violation," Storie said, adding, "This is the first time I've ever seen this actually charged as a crime."

Storie also said Ingram did not use the information he may have obtained for personal gain.

Following internal investigations, Ingram was fired from the police department with cause on Sept. 21. His status was listed as ineligible for re-hire.

At the time of his firing, Ingram sent an e-mail to Marana Chief of Police Terry Tometich extolling his innocence.

"Sir, I do not believe I have committed any offense that warrants termination," Ingram wrote in a Sept. 21 e-mail.

He also indicated plans to appeal if he was terminated. An appeal hearing of his firing is scheduled for Jan. 21.

Internal memos provided by the Marana Police Department reveal in greater depth some of the issues surrounding Ingram.

On March 26, Ingram was seen speeding to work at the Ina Road substation shortly before a 10 p.m. briefing was scheduled to start with the emergency lights of his police car activated. The document indicates that Ingram was not responding to an emergency at that time.

FBI agents who were conducting surveillance on him at the time reported the incident to Ingram's supervisors.

Tometich said the help of the FBI was solicited because the Marana Police Department has limited resources to conduct surveillance.

The internal memos also say Ingram looked up information about the ex-boyfriend of a woman he had a relationship with. Ingram is accused of sharing that information with the woman. He also searched her in the databases.

Transcripts of an interview with the former boyfriend who reported the incident indicate that Ingram may have been meeting with the woman during work hours.

Marana police also interviewed the woman, who confirmed that Ingram shared the information with her. She also told investigators that on at least one occasion she met and kissed Ingram in a field near her parents' house while he was on duty.

The documents describe another incident in which Marana police responded to a house where an 18-year-old woman was threatening suicide.

After question the woman and her parents, police discovered she was involved in a relationship with Ingram. Police confiscated a small amount of heroin and drug paraphernalia from the woman.

Marana officers later made contact with a probation officer possibly assigned to the same woman who said Ingram had been paying the living and drug-court expenses of the woman and that the two had lived together from November 2008 to May 2009. The woman's name was redacted from the documents.

According to the Marana police documents, Ingram also looked up private information on his live-in girlfriend, two fellow officers and one former Marana police officer.

Storie said any attempts to use past or unproven allegations against Ingram in the current case would amount to piling on.

"They bootstrap old and unfounded allegations only trying to dirty up actual allegations," Storie said.

In March 2000, a 15-year-old girl accused him of kissing her on three occasions while she was a participant in the Marana Police Explorers, a group facilitated by officers where youths can learn about police work.

The department, under former Chief David Smith, investigated the girl's claims and had Ingram submit to a polygraph test, which he passed.

The Arizona Attorney General also conducted an investigation into the allegation at the request of the girl's parents. The investigation was closed.

Around the same time, another teen-aged girl made similar allegations against Ingram, which also were dismissed. Ingram was named in three internal investigations in 1999 and 2000, according to Explorer archives. He was cleared in all cases.

Ingram is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 9.

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