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Muslim cop suspended for checking records

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    Fairfax Officer Admits Misusing Computers Plea Entered in Illegal License Checks By Tom Jackman Washington Post Staff Writer Friday, February 1, 2008; Page B01
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 2, 2008
      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
      Gotthardt said.

      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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