Muslim cop suspended for checking records
- Fairfax Officer Admits Misusing Computers
Plea Entered in Illegal License Checks
By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 1, 2008; Page B01
A Fairfax County police sergeant pleaded guilty yesterday to illegally
using police computers to check license plate numbers for a friend,
not knowing that the friend was the target of a federal investigation
and that the license plates were on cars used to surveil the friend.
Sgt. Weiss Rasool, 30, joined the county police in 2000 and is
assigned to patrol the McLean district. He has been suspended with pay
pending the outcome of an internal investigation, Officer Don
During a brief hearing in federal court in Alexandria, Rasool pleaded
guilty to one misdemeanor count of unauthorized computer access. The
maximum sentence is one year in prison, though sentencing guidelines
call for probation or up to six months.
In a statement of facts filed by the government and signed by Rasool,
authorities said Rasool used the Fairfax police computer system June
10, 2005, to access the Virginia Criminal Information Network and the
National Crime Information Center to check three license plates. After
learning that the plates were registered to a leasing company -- which
authorities say Rasool had reason to believe was providing vehicles to
federal investigators -- Rasool told his friend that the plates had
been traced to a company, not an individual.
That phone call was being monitored by federal agents on a wiretap
authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, court
records show. The subject of the surveillance has since been convicted
of felonies in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, but a spokesman for
the U.S. attorney's office declined to identify him yesterday.
The agents could tell from the phone call that Rasool and their target
had spoken before, court records state. And because Rasool was not
conducting a police investigation or other official business, he was
breaking the law by accessing the state and federal databases.
In addition, authorities said, Rasool checked his own name and others
in the national crime database more than 15 times to determine whether
he or other individuals were registered in the Violent Crime and
Terrorist Offender File, also a federal violation when not done as
part of a police investigation. Rasool is a native of Afghanistan and
a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Outside the courtroom, Rasool declined to discuss specifics of the
case. But he said he had not intended to harm an investigation or
damage the United States.
"I couldn't serve in the military because of family issues," Rasool
said. "But this country's done so much for me. I will defend it,
protect it and serve it until the last drop of my blood."
Rasool's attorney, James W. Hundley, said Rasool "didn't divulge any
information he shouldn't divulge." He said a member of Rasool's mosque
asked the police officer to "check license plates he was concerned
about" on vehicles he suspected had been following him.
Hundley said Rasool told his friend that he would be able to provide
only limited information, mainly whether the cars were registered to
companies or individuals. He found they were registered to a company,
Hundley said, and left a voice-mail message to that effect.
The cars apparently were being used for federal surveillance, Hundley
said. He said that he did not know the name of the person being
watched and that Rasool "had no reason to believe this person was the
subject of an investigation."
Rasool only recently learned of the investigation, Hundley said,
apparently after the target was convicted of immigration offenses and
Hundley said Rasool was checking the federal terrorism "watch list to
see if he or others close to him were incorrectly listed. None of them
were, and he never divulged it. And anyone that was on the watch list,
he didn't divulge that either."
Rasool is scheduled to be sentenced April 15.
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