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Mastic Beach: Former official ran illegal background checks

A prominent former Mastic Beach employee posed as a police chief and conducted background checks and searches on more than 400 village residents while illegally gaining access to Social Security numbers and criminal records, village officials said on Sept. 27, 2016. (Credit: Ed Betz)

Mastic Beach officials say a former village employee posed as a police chief and conducted background checks and searches on more than 400 village residents, illegally gaining access to Social Security numbers and criminal records.

Village officials on Tuesday declined to name the former employee at a Village Hall news conference. They said the results of a 21-month village investigation into the matter have been turned over to the Suffolk County district attorney’s office and to state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s office.

A spokesman for the district attorney’s office declined to comment. Doug Cohen, a spokesman for Schneiderman’s office, said late Tuesday that the attorney general has received the information. But he questioned why it took so long for Mastic Beach to tell them.

Mayor Maura Spery, flanked at the announcement by the entire village board, said the former employee was fired from Mastic Beach in December 2014. Among the people whose information was searched were Spery and village trustee Anne Snyder, Spery said, adding that the village has sent letters to everyone who was searched notifying them of the data breach.

The person doing the searches accessed levels of information reserved for law enforcement, and they were conducted from Mastic Beach Village Hall and through a Northport Village government server, said Matt Seifer, a senior partner at Melville-based Radius Investigations at the news conference. Radius conducted the investigation for the village.

Officials did not say why the former official would have wanted the information.

Spery said the former employee used two search engines to conduct the searches and gained access to Social Security numbers and criminal records after filing a five-page application and checking a box that identified him as a police chief, which gave additional high-level clearance for the searches.

“This is a very sad day for Mastic Beach,” Spery said at the conference. “These are serious transgressions.”

Two sources close to the village’s investigation identified the former employee as former village administrator/senior code enforcement officer Tim Brojer, who was fired by Mastic Beach in December 2014 and is now the village administrator in Northport.

Brojer appeared at the news conference with his attorney. Asked by a reporter whether he conducted the background checks, Brojer refused to comment.

Village officials and Northport Police Chief Bill Ricca said that Brojer is the only person the village has hired from Mastic Beach government for at least the past few years.

Northport trustee Damon McMullen said Mastic Beach officials should have “contacted the Village of Northport if they feel something was wrong.”

Mastic Beach village attorney J. David Eldridge said he spoke to Northport village attorney Stuart Besen on Monday to give him a heads-up that the village would have a press conference related to a former Mastic official who now worked for Northport, but provided no further details.

“On behalf of the Village of Northport, this is the first time we’re hearing about the allegation,” Besen said. “We have not been contacted by any law enforcement.”

McMullen added, “As far as I know, at this moment, there has been nothing inappropriate done with our computers and we will, of course look into it.”

With Valerie Bauman


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