[ISN] Utilities worker lands in jail

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Tue Aug 18 1998 - 15:40:58 PDT

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    Forwarded From: "Spencer, Will" <wspencerat_private>
    Utilities worker lands in jail
    By Scott Thomsen/The Gazette 
    Roberto Elsner used his expert computer skills to move up the ladder
    quickly as a city of Colorado Springs employee. It was misuse of those
    skills, police say, that put him behind bars Monday.
    Elsner, 36, is accused of wiping out computer records for 103 parking
    tickets that were issued to himself and a co-worker. That information was
    stored in the police department's Criminal Justice Information System
    Elsner, a business information systems project manager for Colorado
    Springs Utilities, used to be the computer services manager for the police
    department. His position gave him unlimited access to all of the
    department's computer passwords and files.
    "We're talking about an ethics violation in a position of trust," Lt. 
    Steve Liebowitz said. "It maddens us and saddens us."
    Elsner was booked into the El Paso Criminal Justice Center on felony
    charges of computer crime and theft. He was being held on a $10,000 bond.
    Other charges may be filed after a review by the 4th Judicial District
    Attorney's Office.
    Elsner was suspended with pay by Colorado Springs Utilities pending an
    administrative review.
    Utilities officials referred calls about the case back to police. 
    Monday's arrest was the culmination of a complex, six-week investigation
    by the Major Crimes Unit, headed by Sgt. Rod Walker with help from the
    Municipal Court's Violations Bureau and city utilities.
    "This was a first," Liebowitz said, adding that he knows of no previous
    instance in which a city computer system apparently was used to commit a
    More than 10 people worked on the investigation, which required learning
    how the computer system operates, tracking deleted information and
    determining who removed it.
    "Even though some files were purged and deleted, other files were
    maintained unbeknownst to the suspect," Liebowitz said. "It was a
    tremendous amount of work."
    Elsner started working for Colorado Springs Utilities in 1988 as a
    computer programmer. Liebowitz said he excelled at his job, which led to
    his hiring by the police department in 1992.
    All police employees must undergo an extensive background check before
    they are hired, Liebowitz said. The check on Elsner found nothing to raise
    As the police department's computer services manager, Elsner was one of
    only five people who had unlimited access to the computer system,
    Liebowitz said. "He knew all the ins and outs of the systems." Elsner left
    the police in December 1997, to go back to work for Utilities, but
    maintained a security clearance because he continued to provide police
    with computer advice. 
    About the same time, Elsner started collecting a large number of parking
    Liebowitz said city employees who park on the street are subject to all
    parking laws. Elsner's vehicle was ticketed at least 75 times for various
    violations, he said.
    The earliest citation was issued in December 1996, while Elsner was still
    working for the police. Most of the tickets were written this year. 
    In July, employees in the Municipal Court Violations Bureau noticed some
    of those citations were missing.
    Investigators discovered that Elsner's 75 tickets had been purged from the
    computer system along with 28 others issued to an unidentified temporary
    utilities worker.
    The unidentified worker was unaware the tickets were removed and does not
    face prosecution, Liebowitz said.
    All files in the criminal justice information system have been checked for
    tampering, he said, adding that additional security measures have been
    installed to prevent a repeat and protect public confidence in the system.
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