A special agent for the Department of Commerce is facing up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for using a Department of Homeland Security database to cyber-stalk his former girlfriend.
Benjamin Robinson, 40, was indicted Sept. 19 by an Oakland, Calif., jury for unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer and making a false statement to a government agency. Each count carries a maximum jail term of five years.
According to the indictment, Robinson, began a relationship with an unidentified woman in 2002 that ended acrimoniously seven months later. After the breakup, federal authorities allege Robinson accessed a government database known as the TECS (Treasury Enforcement Communications System) at least 163 times to track the travel patterns of the woman and her family.
The indictment also claims that during and after the relationship, Robinson alternatively threatened to have the woman deported or to have her and her family killed.
Federal agents are authorized to use the TECS database only in the performance of their official duties and not for personal reasons. In addition, law enforcement agents receive training in TECS security and privacy, and are issued unique passwords to access TECS so that their use of the system can be monitored.
Robinsons initial court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 11 in San Jose, Calif.
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