State charges ex-officer with 109 counts of conducting illegal searches on law-enforcement computer systems –
Story and photo by Patricia Beech –
Former Manchester police officer, Joshua Hayes pleaded not guilty Tuesday, June 6 to 109 counts of conducting illegal searches on the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OLEG) and the Ohio Law Enforcement Automated Database System (LEADS).
Prosecutor Joel King of the Ohio Attorney General’s (AG) office told Adams County Common Pleas Judge Brett Spencer the “hoped-for agreement” between the defense and the state had fallen through.
Consequently, the AG’s office heaped an additional 104 charges on to the original five-count indictment handed down by an Adams County grand jury in April.
King told the court that Hayes would “face a much stiffer penalty if he is found guilty”.
According to the indictment, Hayes allegedly misused the system when he allegedly “unlawfully did knowingly gain access to, attempt to gain access to, cause access to be granted to, or disseminated information gained from access to…OLEG and LEADS…,” while pursuing information on individuals from Feb. 2015 to June 2016.
The LEADS database includes personal information such as home addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, and criminal records which are only accessible for use by authorized law-enforcement personnel. The OHLEG system allows law-enforcement agencies to share criminal justice data – its use is limited to those employed by criminal justice agencies.
Hayes has not had access to OHLEG or LEADS since July 2016. He has been under investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI) since Nov. 2016.
Former Manchester Police Chief Jeff Bowling, who instigated the investigation into Hayes’s activities told FOX 19 News earlier this year that the officer was illegally pursuing information about “personal friends, girlfriends, ex-girlfriends, and himself.”
Bowling discovered the searches during a required system audit last spring. He says he believes “Hayes was using the LEADS and OHLEG systems to check up on his own record” stemming from an incident with law-enforcement in Kentucky in 2011.
After discovering the undisclosed 2011 incident, Bowling suspended, then terminated Hayes from the Manchester Police Department, but his decision was later overturned by village council members under advisement of counsel.
Hayes acted as Resource Officer for the Manchester School District in addition to working part-time as an officer for the village. Both he and Bowling were permanently laid-off when the village council disbanded the police department citing lack of funds.
Hayes was released on $50,000 bond despite the prosecution’s request that he be considered a “flight risk”. King argued the number of charges leveled against Hayes could prompt him to flee, however Judge Spencer came down on the side of defense attorney Tyler Cantrell, who argued that the ex-police officer had consistently shown good faith by appearing when he was scheduled to do so.
The final pretrial hearing in the case is set for Aug. 24 at 1:30 p.m. The jury trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 25, 2017 at 9 a.m.