Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Improper Database Digging Is Found

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Improper Database Digging Is Found

Article excerpt

DRIVER RECORDS: Workers at state attorney's office did search on candidate


Two employees in the State Attorney's Office misused a government database to access private information about law professor John Torraco, a candidate for state attorney.

Court officials and law enforcement officers have lost jobs, dropped out of elections or even been charged with crimes for misusing the state's Driver and Vehicle Information Database.

The state attorney's office reprimanded an executive assistant and sent out a warning memo to all employees. There was no proof the database information was circulated or used for an illegal purpose, officials said.

State records show about a half a dozen database inquiries about Torraco were made in an eight-month period before he filed to run for office. The most recent was a month before Torraco declared his candidacy, though Torraco says officials at the state attorney's office had known he planned to run.

Torraco, who is campaigning against assistant state attorney Ed Brodksy for State Attorney of the 12th Judicial Circuit, said he suspected there were unauthorized searches of his name. So in May he requested a list of all queries on his name from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The results confirmed his suspicion.

"This is just another example of either rogue tactics by my opponent or his profound mismanagement," Torraco said.

There is no evidence that Brodsky himself was involved in the unauthorized searches. But Brodsky's assistant, Linda Mockovciak, is the employee who was verbally reprimanded.

Jennifer Moran, the executive director of the State Attorney's Office, said there is no indication that Mockovciak passed the information to anyone.

"When questioned, she said she heard that he was running for state attorney and just wanted to see what he looked like," Moran said.

"Certainly when it came to our attention, we notified staff that they are supposed to use the system only for legitimate business purposes," Moran said.

The other employee, a secretary, had left the state attorney's office before the unauthorized searches were discovered. …

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