By BRENDAN J. LYONS Senior Writer
Published: 12:00 a.m., Thursday, October 21, 2010
Internal agency documents and interviews with people at the Parole Division’s Central Avenue, Albany, office show that the secretary linked to the security breach worked for a unit attached to the agency’s chairwoman, Andrea W. Evans.
The Division of Parole declined to comment on the security breach, said Marc Violette, an agency spokesman. He said the agency does not discuss personnel matters. (Cindy Schultz /
ALBANY — A secretary at the central office of the state Division of Parole has been quietly transferred to a new job after parole officers learned that she had been relaying confidential information from parolees’ case files to a suspected gang member in Albany, according to two sources and documents obtained by the Times Union.
The secretary, who has been working for the agency since March 2008, was reassigned in June after officials learned of the breach.
Several parole officers interviewed for this story said the agency did not alert Albany police or Albany County prosecutors about the security breach, which involved at least one parolee who was reported to be working as a confidential informant.
Internal agency documents, and interviews with people at the agency’s Central Avenue headquarters, show that the secretary worked for a unit attached to the agency’s chairwoman, Andrea W. Evans. The Times Union is withholding the secretary’s name because the agency declined a request to make her available for an interview.
“The Division of Parole declines to comment as the agency does not discuss personnel matters,” said Marc Violette, an agency spokesman. “She has been informed of your request and of the agency’s decision not to make her available for an interview.”
The breach was discovered around June 24 when a parole officer met with a parolee in Albany. According to notes provided by a different parole officer, the parolee told his officer that another parolee who is a suspected Bloods gang member had boasted of having access to confidential file entries.
The parolee provided an example to his parole officer of how the suspected gang member said he knew that his confidential file indicated he was “actively recruiting Crip gang members,” according to people familiar with the incident. Other information the suspected gang member learned was entered in his case file by a parole officer gave details of his alleged drug dealing on First Street, weapons possession, and gang activity.
The suspected gang member was being provided the information at a time when Albany detectives were investigating his alleged “marijuana selling activities” in the 200-block of First Street, according to notes provided by a parole officer.
Parole officers who meet with parolees generally enter notes called “chronos” in the agency’s confidential case management system. The CMS is generally accessible by employees of the state Division of Parole who are given clearance to see the information. It can include a parole officer’s notes about a parolee’s gang affiliations, work as a confidential informant or even information that is shared with the parole officer by police agencies.
Manuelita Clemente, a Bronx parole officer who heads the union representing the state’s parole officers, said the incident is disturbing for its hypocrisy — because the agency’s human resources director, Jose Burgos, has been accused of being heavy-handed in disciplining parole officers for minor infractions. The union also has accused Burgos of retaliatory discipline against officers who have tried to blow the whistle on agency policies that may endanger the public.
“Jose Burgos prosecutes and suspends officers for petty stuff … but this kind of thing is a criminal act if this is true and he chose to transfer her,” Clemente said. “We’ve been inquiring about it and no one wants to come forward and say whether it’s true or not.”
The incident comes at a time when Albany police and other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, U.S. Justice Department, Albany County district attorney’s office and the state attorney general’s office, have initiated a series of prosecutions dating back several years against Albany street gangs. Last month the attorney general’s office rounded up several dozen alleged members and associates of the Bloods street gang in a case spearheaded by an organized crime task force.
The parole officers interviewed for this story said it’s unclear how many case files the secretary may have accessed and who may have received the information. There have been several shootings and murders tied to street gangs in Albany in recent years.
Clemente said she is not aware whether the agency’s internal affairs unit conducted an investigation of the matter.
Recently a parolee in Albany who had provided information to a parole officer about a suspected gang member carrying a sword disguised as a cane was told to leave the area, a parole officer said. Their warning to the parole officer came after he was threatened by the brother of the suspected gang member who had received information from the secretary, according to an officer.
Brendan J. Lyons can be reached at 454-5547 or by e-mail at email@example.com.