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State Department celebrity passport snooper sentenced

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The Justice Department made clear Wednesday it won't tolerate "idle curiosity" from State Department workers snooping into the passport files of celebrities, sentencing a contractor to 100 hours of community service.

...In pleading guilty, Young admitted that between March 11, 2003, and Dec. 21, 2005, he logged onto the PIERS database and viewed the passport applications of more than 125 celebrities, actors, comedians, professional athletes, musicians, models, a politician and other individuals identified in the press. Young admitted that he had no official government reason to access and view these passport applications, but that his sole purpose in accessing and viewing these passport applications was idle curiosity.

Below, from Justice Department..

STATE DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEE SENTENCED

FOR ILLEGALLY ACCESSING CONFIDENTIAL PASSPORT FILES


WASHINGTON - A State Department employee was sentenced today to 12 months of probation for illegally accessing more than 125 confidential passport application files, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division announced. Kevin M. Young, 42, of Temple Hills, MD, was also ordered by U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Kay in the District of Columbia to perform 100 hours of community service. Young pleaded guilty on Aug. 17, 2009, to a one-count criminal information charging him with unauthorized computer access.

According to court documents, Young has worked full-time for the State Department since February 1987. He has been a contact representative for the Passport Special Issuance Agency for the last eight years. In pleading guilty, Young admitted he had access to official State Department computer databases in the regular course of his employment, including the Passport Information Electronic Records System (PIERS), which contains all imaged passport applications dating back to 1994. The imaged passport applications on PIERS contain, among other things, a photograph of the passport applicant as well as certain personal information including the applicant's full name, date and place of birth, current address, telephone numbers, parent information, spouse's name and emergency contact information. These confidential files are protected by the Privacy Act of 1974, and access by State Department employees is strictly limited to official government duties.

In pleading guilty, Young admitted that between March 11, 2003, and Dec. 21, 2005, he logged onto the PIERS database and viewed the passport applications of more than 125 celebrities, actors, comedians, professional athletes, musicians, models, a politician and other individuals identified in the press. Young admitted that he had no official government reason to access and view these passport applications, but that his sole purpose in accessing and viewing these passport applications was idle curiosity.

Young is the eighth current or former State Department employee or contractor to plead guilty in this continuing investigation. On Sept. 22, 2008, Lawrence C. Yontz, a former Foreign Service Officer and intelligence analyst, pleaded guilty to unlawfully accessing nearly 200 confidential passport files. Yontz was sentenced on Dec. 19, 2008, to 12 months of probation and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service. On Jan. 14, 2009, Dwayne F. Cross, a former administrative assistant and contract specialist, pleaded guilty to unlawfully accessing more than 150 confidential passport files. Cross was sentenced on March 23, 2009, to 12 months of probation and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. On Jan. 27, 2009, Gerald R. Lueders, a former Foreign Service Officer, watch officer and recruitment coordinator, pleaded guilty to unlawfully accessing more than 50 confidential passport files. Lueders was sentenced on July 8, 2009, to 12 months of probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine. On July 10, 2009, William A. Celey, a file assistant, pleaded guilty to unlawfully accessing more than 75 confidential passport files. Celey was sentenced on Oct. 23, 2009, to 12 months of probation and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service. On Aug. 26, 2009, Karal Busch, a former citizens services specialist, pleaded guilty to unlawfully accessing more than 65 confidential passport files. Busch is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 15, 2009. On Oct. 28, 2009, Yvette M. Burrison, a passport specialist, pleaded guilty to unlawfully accessing nearly 100 confidential passport files. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled for Burrison. On Nov. 9, 2009, Susan Holloman, a file assistant, pleaded guilty to unlawfully accessing 70 confidential passport files. Holloman is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 21, 2010.

These cases are being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Armando O. Bonilla of the Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section. The cases are being investigated by the State Department Office of Inspector General.

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09-1319

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on December 9, 2009 11:17 AM.

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