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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ex-DEA Analyst Charged with Misuse of Info

Ex-DEA analyst charged with misuse of info
Allegedly used to harass woman
THE TELEGRAM & GAZETTE by Lee Hammel - January 14, 2009

A man who worked as an intelligence analyst in a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration office in Worcester has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he used DEA resources to harass his former girlfriend. Earl S. Hoffman Jr., 40, formerly of Lowell, was arrested Sunday at a remote border crossing from Canada into Vermont, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office. He spent the past year working overseas. Mr. Hoffman worked for the Massachusetts National Guard in 2007 and was assigned that April to work in the National Guard’s counter-drug program. He was assigned to the New England High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force in the DEA’s Worcester office, collecting and analyzing information for the task force’s drug-related criminal investigations.

Mr. Hoffman had access to a computer database with sensitive information that was supposed to be used only to assist criminal drug investigations, according to the indictment. The indictment alleges Mr. Hoffman used a DEA computer in Worcester on May 25, 2007, to access the Massachusetts driver’s license records of a woman who was not the target of a drug investigation. He had had an intimate relationship with the woman that ended badly two years earlier. Because Mr. Hoffman’s computer in Worcester could not print out driver’s license photographs, he called the HIDTA office in Methuen and asked colleagues there to send him the woman’s driver’s license information, her driver’s license photograph and her criminal history. The Methuen office complied, believing the request was for official purposes. That same day, an e-mail containing the woman’s driver’s license photograph and an insult to the woman was sent to her teenage son. Although Mr. Hoffman sent the e-mail, it purportedly was sent by his ex-girlfriend’s then-current boyfriend. He also faxed an official DEA subpoena to a telephone company in Kansas seeking information about the telephone number that his girlfriend had used when they were romantically involved. After sending at least one more similar communication to his ex-girlfriend and her son, Mr. Hoffman sent the son an e-mail or instant message that included his ex-girlfriend’s driver’s license photograph and a pornographic picture. The Massachusetts State Police investigated and learned that Mr. Hoffman had requested his ex-girlfriend’s state records, and the DEA learned of the state police investigation. Mr. Hoffman told a DEA group supervisor that he sought the information because her telephone number had been linked to an ongoing drug investigation and that a task force officer in Worcester asked him to subpoena information. He also falsely said that he requested his ex-girlfriend’s information for an official purpose and entered it into a DEA internal database in the Worcester office.

Mr. Hoffman produced a call report that he altered to indicate that his ex-girlfriend’s telephone number had received a call from a telephone number that actually was under DEA investigation. “By inspecting the records carefully, law enforcement ensured that Hoffman’s actions did not result in a false prosecution,” according to the statement from the U.S. attorney’s office. A message left at a telephone number listed to Mr. Hoffman in Lowell was not returned last night. Mr. Hoffman is charged with violation of the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, making false statements, altering and falsifying records in a federal investigation, and wire fraud and the theft of honest services from the National Guard and DEA. The U.S. attorney’s office said that this is the first known criminal charge under the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act. Congress passed the law in 1994 after the murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer by a man who had gotten her address from the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The case was investigated by the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice with assistance from DEA, the state police, and the Massachusetts National Guard. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott L. Garland and Jeffrey M. Cohen, in the computer crimes and public corruption unit of U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan, are prosecuting the case.

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