Former Yolo probation officer denies data misuse charges

WOODLAND — A former Yolo County probation officer accused of unlawful computer use made his first court appearance Wednesday, pleading not guilty to eight felony charges.

Yolo County sheriff’s Sgt. Lance Faille said Jaime Melgoza suspected his wife of infidelity and used the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System to look up information about her suspected boyfriends.

“It’s supposed to be for law enforcement business purposes,” Faille said of CLETS, which provides access to DMV records, criminal history, missing person reports and active warrants, among other information.

Melgoza did not log into the system properly, apparently to conceal the fact that he was using it for personal reasons, Faille said.

A four-page criminal complaint filed April 29 alleges that Melgoza unlawfully used the CLETS system eight times between May 2008 and October 2009.

“In his mind he was trying to protect his family,” Faille said. “In either event, it was wrong.”

In court Wednesday, the 38-year-old Melgoza told Commissioner Janene Beronio he did not have the money to hire an attorney. He was appointed a lawyer from the county’s panel of conflict attorneys after the Yolo County Public Defender’s Office declared a conflict of interest in the case.

Beronio said she would allow the out-of-custody Melgoza to remain free of his own recognizance if he agreed to make his future court appearances and obey all laws.

“Are you willing to do that?” Beronio asked.

“Yes, your honor,” Melgoza replied.

The former senior deputy probation officer, who resigned from his job earlier this month, avoided reporters after the brief arraignment hearing by ducking into the rear entrance of the Public Defender’s Office, located adjacent to the courtroom, with another man who had accompanied him to court.

Melgoza is scheduled to return to court on July 22 for a pre-hearing conference. Prosecutors said he faces anywhere from a year in county jail to up to three years in prison if convicted.

Ava Landers, the attorney accepting the case on behalf of the conflict panel, said after Wednesday’s hearing that she hadn’t yet received any discovery and wasn’t prepared to comment about the case.

Probation program manager Jim Metzen said Melgoza was employed by the department for nearly 10 years, from November 2000 until his June 4 resignation.

As senior deputy probation officer, Melgoza served as an officer of the court, investigating adult felony and juvenile delinquency cases and applications for probation, monitoring the compliance of probationers and arresting those who violated the terms of their probation.

Metzen declined to comment further about the allegations against Melgoza.

Former Yolo probation officer denies data misuse charges was last modified: June 28th, 2012 by admin
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