Computer scientist accused of giving police information to trafficking ring denied bail

Third District Judge Kirsten Johnson on Tuesday denied a bail application for a former Salt Lake City IT worker accused of using his access to sensitive police information to aid in an operation trafficking in human beings.

Police said Patrick Kevin Driscoll, 50, of Salt Lake City, was known as “The Guardian” because he used “his job as an employee in Salt Lake City to access databases of law enforcement and other non-public sources and provide “inside information to 49-year-old Michael Joe Ricks. Ricks is accused of being involved in prostitution and drug trafficking and faces 15 felonies and misdemeanors. Police said the information helped keep Ricks’ criminal activity undetected.

Prosecutor Kaytlin Beckett said Driscoll’s actions caused significant damage to Salt Lake City and required them to get an external audit of their system and put agents and resources aside.

“Sir. Driscoll’s conduct allowed Mr. Ricks’ scheme to continue for several months. The amount of information he provided to Mr. Ricks is astounding,” Beckett said.

She said the information Driscoll provided to Ricks included the locations of undercover operations, undercover police phone numbers and information on undercover vehicles. Beckett argued that there would be a “serious risk to public safety” if he was allowed to be released on bail.

“He is not an innocent player,” said the prosecutor.

But Driscoll’s attorney, Greg Ferbrache, said none of the allegations in the case were up to date and there would be no “real-time risk” in allowing him to be free during the hearing of the case. He said the 50-year-old did not have a criminal history and was not violent.

“Even if he is convicted as alleged, he is a candidate for probation,” said Ferbrache.

He said the attempts to prevent Driscoll from being released on bail are not aimed at ensuring public safety, but rather are an attempt to punish Driscoll.

Patrick Driscoll’s sister, Maureen Womack, said during the chat during the online hearing that Driscoll’s family will cooperate and make sure everyone is safe.

“I want to share my dismay at the poor description of my brother and my prayer for relief is that he be released,” she said.

Beckett said that while Driscoll is not currently charged with human trafficking, there is a possibility that such charges may be brought against him, even by the federal system. She accused Driscoll of posing as a police officer in order to gain more authority over the girls in the human trafficking operation and said the victims expressed their fear of him and believed that they couldn’t refuse it. Beckett claimed that Driscoll was sometimes paid for his help with the operation, but other times he would take “swaps or credits” instead and engage in commercial sex with them. girls.

“There was a whole eight month period in which these girls could be exploited, these girls could be treated with violence, they were forced to engage in commercial sex, take drugs, and The exact reason is because of Mr. Driscoll’s conduct. He just supported a ploy knowing it was a ploy, knowing he would continue to have access to these girls if he continued to do so, “Beckett told the judge.

Although Ferbrache argued that there was no evidence that Driscoll knew the people he passed on information to were involved in human trafficking, Beckett said Driscoll called a tip saying he suspected that they were but still engaged in commercial sex with the girls even after that. time.

The judge said it would be possible to limit Driscoll’s access to the internet if he was released on bail to prevent him from sharing more information, but expressed concern about victims of trafficking who are not specified in the charges, saying they could be endangered if it did not demand that he remain in jail.

Johnson explained that the constitutional right to bail may be limited when there are felony charges and when the judge decides there is evidence to support the felony charges, which she said in that case.

Driscoll is charged with three counts of obstructing justice and engaging in illegal activity, second degree felonies; two counts of computer crimes interfering with critical infrastructures, one a second degree felony and the other a third degree felony; aggravated exploitation of prostitution, a third degree felony; and aiding prostitution, a class A offense.

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