A Florida police sergeant has been accused of using a law enforcement database as his own personal dating service to look up hundreds of unsuspecting women.
Former Bradenton Police Sgt. Leonel Marines, 36, allegedly used the information he gathered to contact some of the women on social media, cold-calling them or reaching out to them under the guise of conducting police business, all in an effort to get dates with the women.
“To get right to the root of the matter, Leonel Marines was not utilizing this data for law enforcement purposes whatsoever,” Police Chief Melanie Bevan said during a press conference.
Bevan said that the investigation into Marines’ activities began in June 2018 after an adult female and her parents filed a citizen’s complaint against the officer.
The woman had a “brief encounter” with Marines in a retail parking lot but later spotted the officer following her.
“When driving home she became concerned upon realizing he was following her in his police cruiser,” Bevan said, adding that he turned off shortly before she arrived at her parent’s house.
After she had gotten into the home, Marines showed up at the door and asked the woman’s parents to speak with her “regarding a domestic matter.” Her parents knew that she wasn’t involved in any domestic matter and refused to let him speak with her. The parents then asked for the officer’s name and supervisor.
“Marines left the residence without providing anything,” Bevans said.
The woman and her parents contacted police, who were able to identify Marines. He told his supervisors he had noticed the woman’s taillight was out and had followed her because he thought she may have been impaired.
“The two stories really didn’t match up and when it was brought to my attention, I order a further investigation into the incident,” Bevans said.
The investigation ultimately led to an audit of Marines’ driver license and vehicle registration record use as well as his patrol activity.
Police discovered a very “clear trend” of Marines focusing on female names rather than male names in his searches and revealed “several hundred questionable database queries of women.”
Bevans said it appeared the activity had been going on for years. He had proceeded to make contact with a smaller group of the women, most of whom were Hispanic.
Marines, who had worked for the department for 12 years, was transferred to desk duty when the investigation began but was later put on administrative leave and stripped of his badge and gun as the gravity of the investigation began to grow.
He resigned Oct. 30, 2018.
A woman claiming to be the disgraced officer's wife told The New York Post through tears that she was divorcing him and had not known anything about the allegations.
Bevans said she has spoken with several of the women impacted by Marines alleged activities in an attempt to “regain their trust” and said the former sergeant’s alleged actions do not represent others in law enforcement.
The information discovered during the investigation has been passed to the FBI office in Tampa. The office is pursuing a criminal investigation, WWSB reports.
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