KSL INVESTIGATES

Criminal case against ex-IT employee raises questions about SLC security measures

Nov 1, 2021, 11:27 PM | Updated: Nov 5, 2021, 12:57 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City says it’s taking steps to protect sensitive information as prosecutors build their case against a former city IT worker accused of handing over names, numbers and the whereabouts of undercover officers to a sex-trafficking ring.

But city leaders remain tight-lipped about the exact changes they’re planning and the extent of the security breach. They’re also not saying whether any citizens’ personal information was compromised.

The city is facing scrutiny as some question why the employee had access to police and other databases — and whether the police department kept tabs on who was looking up those records.

“Even though he works for the city, he’s still an outsider to the police department. How is it that he accessed that, and how is it that he got in there so easily – if he in fact did?” said Chris Bertram, a retired deputy chief for the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office now working as a criminal defense investigator. One person’s ability to undermine a network of undercover operations, he added, is “really concerning.”

Chris Bertram

Patrick Kevin Driscoll, 50, is accused of providing the information in exchange for sex.

He was never an officer or an employee of the police department but had “full access to the police department as well as all city and law enforcement databases,” court documents say.

Mayor’s spokeswoman Lindsey Nikola told KSL in a prepared statement that “we want the city’s residents to know that additional measures are being taken to further assure the protection of any personal information that may exist in our systems.”

She did not elaborate on the steps being taken and did not provide answers to several questions from KSL Investigators, including whether the city regularly audited employees’ access to certain databases.

Driscoll faces seven felony charges, including three counts of obstructing justice and exploiting prostitution.

His attorney, Gregory Ferbrache, maintains his client and several other public employees had access to the information and the state’s version of events isn’t correct.

“Patrick Driscoll is being made a scapegoat,” Ferbrache said, adding that charging documents don’t make clear exactly which documents or databases prosecutors believe his client viewed.

Gregory Ferbrache, Patrick Driscoll’s defense attorney

“I find it very unusual that these very serious allegations have been made without more substance,” he continued. “I think there’s a reason for the lack of clarity in the charging documents, and it’s simply that Salt Lake City Police Department doesn’t know what employees are accessing.”

Mayor Erin Mendenhall and Police Chief Mike Brown declined interviews through separate spokespeople.

A request to interview the city’s attorney was also declined.

Prosecutors haven’t said exactly how or when they believe Driscoll obtained the details about the officers and their investigations. And the Utah Attorney General’s Office declined comment for this story.

But charging documents indicate Driscoll did so by scanning databases, Bertram said.

“It kind of spelled out that there was this database of undercover officers, which doesn’t make any sense to me,” Bertram said. “It should be the opposite: You should go looking and find nothing.”

The city hasn’t answered KSL’s question of whether a database of undercover officers exists.

Only a handful of employees in the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office knew who was working undercover on certain cases during Bertram’s time there, he told KSL-TV.

Many law enforcement agencies conduct regular audits of databases to determine who is logging in to obtain information and when, but the city has not answered questions about whether Driscoll was ever audited.

Nikola said the city hired Driscoll following a thorough background check in March 2019.

He was a network support administrator making about $54,300 a year, ranking in the second of three tiers of employees.

A job description says the role included providing software support, troubleshooting problems and maintaining computer systems, but does not mention duties tied to information that’s sensitive or pertaining to police investigations.

Network Support Admin II Job Description

Network Support Admin II Job Description by LarryDCurtis on Scribd

The city cut off Driscoll’s access to its IT systems and placed him on leave Oct. 20, concluding its own review and firing him on Oct. 29.

Driscoll is set to appear in court Tuesday for a detention hearing in Salt Lake City’s 3rd District Court.

Have you experienced something you think just isn’t right? The KSL Investigators want to help. Submit your tip at investigates@ksl.com or 385-707-6153 so we can get working for you.

KSL Investigates

James Oborn shows KSL’s Matt Gephardt one side of a signpost saying there is no street parking at...

Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage

Get Gephardt helps Utahn who says confusing signs led to towing woes

If you park in violation of a community’s rules, you’d expect to be towed. But what does Utah law say about parking enforcement signs that are confusing?

4 hours ago

A buckle in the sidewalk on West Temple is pictured in this KSL file image. Salt Lake City later re...

Annie Knox and Daniella Rivera

Before scooter rider crashed in Salt Lake City, complaint warned sidewalk was ‘a neck breaker’

A broken Salt Lake sidewalk is more than an eyesore and can be a safety issue. Is enough being done to repair hazards? KSL Investigates.

6 days ago

FILE - This combination of 2017-2022 photos shows the logos of Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and Snapch...

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage

Scammers offer to help regain control of hacked social media accounts for a fee

People are advertising they can help you get back into your hacked social media accounts. It is a lie.

6 days ago

A Utah man purchased Aerosmith tickets back when the show was scheduled in 2023, but the show got p...

Matt Gephardt

Utahns fighting for refunds on postponed Aerosmith concert

A Utah man purchased Aerosmith tickets back when the show was scheduled in 2023, but the show got pushed to a day that no longer works for him. He decided to Get Gephardt when his quest for a refund hit a dead end.

8 days ago

The KSL Investigators purchased four supermarket containers of strawberries, spinach and grapes to ...

Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage

Food for thought: Do storage containers keep your fruits and veggies fresh longer?

Many manufacturers claim their food storage containers will keep fruits and vegetables fresh longer. The KSL Investigators tested just how well those bins live up to their hype.

12 days ago

The USDA estimates we toss out 30-40% of our food purchases, even though much of it is perfectly sa...

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Food for thought: How understanding date labels can prevent food waste

The USDA estimates we toss out 30-40% of our food purchases, even though much of it is perfectly safe to eat. Decoding date labels could help you bust inflation.

13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Criminal case against ex-IT employee raises questions about SLC security measures