ALBANY — Former Clinton County Deputy Clerk Glenn Olds violated state and federal policy, according to a state report released Thursday that also criticizes the county clerk and his local DMV operation.
Acting New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott said her office found that Olds violated State Department of Motor Vehicle policy and the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act when he accessed DMV records “without authorization and for purposes unrelated to his work.”
Olds looked up information at the request of Chris Ortloff, a State Parole Board member and former assemblyman who was under criminal investigation.
He also accessed data for County Clerk John Zurlo, who wanted contact information for constituents, the investigation found.
“When public officials violate the privacy of citizens, they are not only breaking the law but undermining the public’s trust,” Scott said in a news release.
“Shameful incidents like these put public servants under a cloud of suspicion. I thank the State DMV, which has agreed to take corrective action to further prevent such conduct.”
ORTLOFF AND PLATE
In September 2008, while Ortloff was being
investigated for soliciting sex with underage girls, he asked Olds to access information on the registration of a license plate.
It turned out to be the car of an investigator.
In March 2009, DMV was told by police that the integrity of its database had been compromised. DMV contacted the Inspector General’s Office, which initiated an investigation.
The investigation found that on “numerous occasions,” Olds also made unauthorized access at Zurlo’s request.
“Olds said Zurlo wanted addresses and birth dates of constituents so he could send them birthday cards,” the news release said.
“Olds indicated that Zurlo’s requests were frequent and that he knew accessing the database for these reasons was inappropriate, but he did not want to defy Zurlo, his supervisor.
“In his interview with the Inspector General, Zurlo admitted to enlisting Olds to access the DMV database on his behalf,” the release said.
Zurlo said Thursday that he did nothing malicious.
“This was almost two years ago,” he said. “We have since taken the appropriate steps to ensure all proper procedures and protocols are being followed.”
Additionally, the Inspector General’s report determined that internal controls and computer security were lax, “as DMV employees were able to easily access the database using Olds’s ID and pass code, which was fastened to their work station by sticky note.”
After 17 years at DMV, Olds resigned from his position in June 2011, which precludes disciplinary action against him.
Reached Thursday night, Olds said he never tried to do anything underhanded.
“I felt I did the appropriate thing by bowing out, knowing that technically I broke the rules,” he said.
“But my intent was to serve the public. There was no hidden agenda on my part.”
The inspector general has recommended that Clinton County officials review the conduct of Clinton County DMV staff involved in the unauthorized and improper database accesses and take appropriate action, the report said.
“The Inspector General has further recommended that the New York State DMV conduct random audits of the Clinton County DMV to ensure compliance with database access protocols and train Clinton County DMV staff on DMV policy regarding the proper use of the database and information disclosure,” the report read.
State DMV will comply with the recommendations, according to the release.
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