According to Lee Hammel of the Worcester Telegram and Gazette a federal grand jury has indicted a Massachusetts man on charges of falsifying records in a federal investigation, altering and falsifying records in a federal investigation, wire fraud, making false statements, and the theft of honest services from the National Guard and DEA. It is alleged that the 40 year old man, Earl Hoffman from Lowell used federal resources to harass a former girlfriend. Hoffman was employed by the Massachusetts National Guard’s counter-drug program. His subsequent assignment to a DEA related task force had him analyzing and collecting data for the task force in drug related criminal investigations. The assignment provided Hoffman access to a computer database containing sensitive information.
According to the article the prosecution is alleging the following facts:
1. On May 25, 2007 Hoffman used a DEA computer in Worcester to obtain driver’s license records of a woman with whom he had an intimate relationship. The relationship had ended badly years earlier.
2. Hoffman got the woman’s driver’s license information, photograph and criminal records.
3. Purporting to be the woman’s new boyfriend, Hoffman emailed the woman’s license picture along with an insult to the woman’s teenage son. He also sent the son a pornographic photograph.
4. Hoffman faxed a DEA subpoena to a telephone company to get the woman’s phone records from when they were together.
Once the investigation began Hoffman told the DEA supervisor that he had requested the woman’s information because her telephone number had been linked to a pending investigation. He further stated that a supervisor asked him to subpoena the telephone records. Hoffman stated that the information was requested for official purposes.
The prosecution has charged Hoffman with violating the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act. This is the first known criminal charge under this act.
The Driver’s Privacy Protection Act is codified in 18 U.S.C. Section 2721. The law prohibits anyone with lawful access to personal information from motor vehicle records from disclosing that material to anyone else. The law also makes it illegal to obtain this information without a lawfully designated purpose or to make a false representation to obtain this data. 18 U.S.C. Section 2723 states that a conviction of this crime carries a fine. The other crimes with which Hoffman has been charged carry significantly more severe penalties. This law was enacted in 1994 in response to the murder of actor Rebecca Shaeffer who was killed by someone who obtained her information from the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Attorney Stephen Neyman is a criminal defense lawyer in Boston, Massachusetts who has been practicing criminal law since 1987. He has successfully defended people charged with federal crimes in Massachusetts and throughout the country. Our office is dedicated exclusively to defending the accused. No case is too big for our staff to handle. If you have been charged with a crime in federal court you must contact a criminal defense lawyer. Changes in federal criminal laws are constant and the outcome of your case often depends on the experience of your lawyer. Do not hesitate. Call our office now.