Chicago Police Officer Who Ran Plates for FRG Castle Owner Neighbor Loses Her Job

Jennifer Martin, a friend of Fox River Grove Castle owner’s across the street neighbor, has lost her job as a Chicago Police Patrol Officer for using the state license plate data base for non-official purposes.

The July 17th vote was 6-2 by the Chicago Police Board.

Fox River Grove's Bettendorf Castle from a corner of the lot.

Fox River Grove’s Bettendorf Castle from a corner of the lot.

Here’s the first charge of which she was found guilty:

Count I: Between approximately October 2010 and May 2011, or on one or more dates therein, Police Officer Jennifer J. Martin conducted one or more Law Enforcement Agencies DataSystem (“LEADS”) inquiries on one or more license plate numbers without an official police purpose and/or for personal purposes, and/or subsequently disseminated information acquired from one or more LEADS inquiries to Ms. Diana Durso, a non-Department member who is not legally authorized to have access to the LEADS information, thereby violating the LEADSpolicy (Illinois Administrative Code, Title 20, Section 1240.80).

The decision says,

“Officer Martin stipulated and testified to facts that establish by a preponderance of rhe evidence that between October 2010 and May 2011 she ran multiple license plates for Ms. Diana Durso, a family friend and private citizen in Fox River Grove, who was opposed to a potential zoning change regarding the Bettendorf Castle in Fox River Grove.”

The State law broken is Illinois Administrative Code, Title 20, Section 1240.80(d) states in pertinent part:

“LEADS data shall not be disseminated to any individual or organization that is not legally authorized to have access to the information.”

A footnote further explains the rules for using LEADS:

“LEADS is a statewide secure and confidential computerized telecommunications system maintained by the Illinois State Police designed to provide the Illinois criminal justice community with access to computerized justice-related information at both the state and national levels. LEADS is governed by very strict regulations due to the highly sensitive, personal and private information contained in LEADS. LEADS policies and regulations are in place to protect privacy, civil liberties and the safety of private citizens. (Tr. 100-102, 108-109).”

The decision brushes aside Martin’s defense, that “Durso, was afraid that she was being followed (or was paranoid about being followed) by ‘different people, in different vehicles … at different times…'”

The Board’s decision states,

“Multiple inquiries of several different license plates took place over a prolonged period of time, which evinces that it is more likely than not that Officer Martin ran these plates for a family friend who was involved with a dispute with a neighbor in Fox River Grove, rather than for any legitimate police purpose.”

Martin was also charged with violating Federal law, specifically, the Driver’s Protection Act of 1994 (18 USC §2722 and/or §2721).

A pertinent section of the 1994 law reads,

“It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to obtain or disclose personal information, from a motor vehicle record, for any use not permitted under section 2721(b) of this title.-“

The Board then finds, “None of the ‘permissible uses’ under §2721(b) of the Driver’s Protection Act of 1994, authorized the dissemination of the personal information Officer Martin shared with Diana Durso, a private citizen.”

There are other charges about bringing the Chicago Police Department into disrepute, not implementing police, taking action for personal gain or influence, disobeying an order, etc.

The Board found that Martin’s actions

  • jeopardized the Chicago Department’s ability to utilized the LEADS network (“She cast the Department in a bad light not only with the Illinois State Police, which was made aware of an allegation that a Chicago Police Officer inappropriately conducted LEADS inquiries and demanded a CPD investigation, but also brought discredit upon the Department with the Fox River Grove Police Department.”)
  • “Her conduct violated both Federal Law and State Regulations.”

Testimony was taken from fellow officers that praised Martin’s work. She had no prior disciplinary history and ” 41 complimentary awards and recognitions.”

Nevertheless, the Board stated,

“However, Officer Martin’s accomplishments as a police officer, her complimentary history, and the lack of prior disciplinary history, do not mitigate the seriousness of her misconduct. No police officer can be allowed to remain on the job when she disseminates the personal information of many citizens in violation of federal law, the Illlinois Administrative Code, and Chicago Police Department policy.

“The Board finds that the Respondent’s conduct is sufficiently serious to constitute a substantial shortcoming that renders her continuance in her office detrimental to the discipline and efficiency of the service of the Chicago Police Department, and is something that the law recognizes as good cause for her to no longer occupy her office.”

The investigation by Internal Affairs took a year and a half.

= = = = =

Attorney Robert Hanlon was involved in this case on behalf of Castle owner Ralph Casten.

The Federal law cited is the same one being used by Hanlon against Undersheriff Andy Zinke. The story is here.  Yesterday, this article updated the status of that suit.


Chicago Police Officer Who Ran Plates for FRG Castle Owner Neighbor Loses Her Job — 11 Comments

  1. She should have lost her job and Chicago made the right decision.

    Zinke also broke the law and should loose his job for using Leads for his personal use.

  2. Yeah, this is apples and oranges.

    An old curmudgeon didn’t come to the door of Offr. Martin and act in a threatening nature towards her family.

    Can’t wait for the witch hunt to be over.

  3. If Andrew was so threatened by this menacing old woman, he should have documented the incident by contacting his local police department, which I do believe is the Woodstock P.D.

    Taking matters into his own hands was not appropriate.

    My opinion is that Andrew did not expect that anyone would find out about his misuse of the LEAD database.

  4. This isn’t about accountability, it’s about spiking a football.

  5. If McHenry County had a true working Sheriff, that actually showed up to work and cared about the citizens of McHenry County, then that Sheriff should charge Zinke with the appropriate General Order violations that were committed, and charge Zinke with Official Misconduct at a minimum..

    Does anybody know where the Sheriff of McHenry County is this week ?

    What state is he spending those $100 bills of campaign donations he received in this week ?

    Hello walrus, you had enough water, come back and resurface in McHenry County and take care of this situation with Zinke like you should ….

    Or forever be known as the Sheriff that was a pansy

  6. So, this again?

    Frank is right on—let it rest.

    In any event, if Zinke had called WPD- I’m sure the internet Clint Eastwoods on here would blast him for not having the intestinal fortitude to handle his own issues…

  7. It is, in part, about accountability.

    She lost her job because her actions were illegal.

    As for Nygren, sure hope the IRS pays him a visit…lol…

  8. Abuse of power by government officials is the worst form of abuse threatening the very foundation of our democratic republic by eroding public confidence and trust in government.

    I hope former Barrington Hills Village President and certain former and current Barrington Hills Village trustees are taking note.

  9. If Zinke would have called the Woodstock PD, this wouldn’t be news.

    What makes this newsworthy is that Zinke abused his authority by digging up dirt on a process server- plain and simple.

    If Prim or Harrison did that I would be of the same opinion.

  10. I think the very laws meant to protect us hinder us the Privatcy Law and No signage plates on apt doors or mailboxes the police are not required to give you written reports of complaints.

    How are you suppose to obtain the name of a bully harassing next door neighbor in order to obtain a court order you need a (NAME)

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