SLC IT employee arrested after allegedly providing undercover police data to human trafficker
Oct 21, 2021, 11:00 AM | Updated: 6:40 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — An information technology employee for Salt Lake City has been arrested after police said he accessed police databases to provide information about undercover operations to a Bountiful man charged with human trafficking.
Patrick Kevin Driscoll, 50, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on Wednesday for investigation of two felony counts of computer crimes, exploiting prostitution, aiding prostitution, obstructing justice and theft.
Officers said they were investigating Michael Ricks, who was charged on Oct. 7 with 15 felonies and misdemeanors, including two first-degree felony counts of aggravated human trafficking for forced sexual exploitation, when a victim told police she knew of an associated of Ricks who provided him “with law enforcement sensitive data that was not available to the public.”
The victim told police she was specifically a victim of Driscoll, and she was fearful for her safety.
The victim added she came to know Driscoll “while working in the commercial sex industry and that she had specifically traded sex for money or information” from him.
At one point, the victim told investigators Driscoll took her to a Salt Lake City Police Department station and used an access key to enter the underground parking lot.
According to court documents, the victim “believed Driscoll to be a police officer because he was able to access the police station in addition to being able to provide Ricks and others with law enforcement sensitive data.”
Police said Driscoll had “full access to the police department as well as all city and law enforcement databases,” and the victim told officers Driscoll would use that access to retrieve “phone numbers and names of police officers working undercover, specifically those who investigate prostitution and human trafficking crimes” that he passed “to individuals involved in illicit activities.”
According to court documents, police believe Driscoll would send details about undercover police operations to Ricks, who would then be able to hide his illegal activities from officers.
The victim told investigators Driscoll received money or sexual acts from Ricks as payment, and “she has been forced to perform sex acts with Driscoll in exchange for the information that he provided.”
Police said they found evidence that another victim feared for her life in text messages between her and the first victim, which said anyone discussing operations between Ricks or Driscoll, who went by the moniker “The Guardian,” “would end up in the desert.”
According to court documents, investigators found several conversations between Ricks and the two victims discussing “The Guardian,” including one where a victim was told to cancel her date because it was an undercover police operation.
In another conversation, police said the first victim was warned of a “police narcotics operation in a building next to hers.”
Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said his department arrested Driscoll at the Public Safety Building and secured evidence as part of the Utah Attorney General’s Office’s investigation.
“The allegations, as described in court documents, are very concerning,” Brown said. “Because this remains an active investigation, no further information can be released. The Salt Lake City Police Department is fully cooperating with the Utah Attorney General’s Office.”
On Wednesday, police interviewed Driscoll who said he “accessed Salt Lake City databases from his home residence, but claimed the information he provided to Ricks” and the victims was false.
After obtaining a search warrant, police said they found electronic storage devices with the “names of undercover officers, metro gang files, and other law enforcement restricted documents.”
Officers requested Driscoll be held without bail because he has accessed, or could access, information to retaliate against officers involved in the investigation.
Police added both victims told investigators Driscoll has been violent in the past and they were worried about retaliation.
Officials said “there is a concern Driscoll not only has the knowledge, but the means, to shut down all city IT services should he desire.”
Former SLC Police Chief Chris Burbank called this alleged crime “extremely” concerning.
“Where are the checks and balances that should be in place to ensure that type of thing doesn’t happen?” Burbank said. “Things like this do not go a long way to endear the police department to the community.”
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall issued a statement Thursday, which read, “While I cannot comment directly on this ongoing investigation, I will say I am deeply troubled by the circumstances and information surrounding the arrest of a Salt Lake City Corporation IMS employee.
“Salt Lake City Corporation is in full cooperation with the Utah Attorney General’s Office and the employee is on administrative leave pending potential disciplinary action. I’m urging the HR department to move through the disciplinary process quickly to ensure this is resolved as fast as possible.”