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Two Former Cops Misused Confidential Database

Arizona Daily Independent
Terri Jo Neff
2022-08-18
https://arizonadailyindependent.com/2022/08/18/two-former-cops-misused-confidential-database/

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A former Sierra Vista police officer who used state and local law enforcement databases to obtain the new address of his estranged wife could permanently lose his peace officer certification in the next few months, as could a former Nogales officer who also improperly accessed a state database for personal reasons and fraudulently obtained a vehicle title.

The Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training (AZPOST) board unanimously voted Wednesday to initiate proceedings against the certification of Raymond C. Pyle, 30, for his actions on Aug. 10, 2021 just days before he filed for divorce.

Read more by Terri Jo Neff >>

According to AZPOST Compliance Specialist Cathy Hawse, an internal Sierra Vista PD investigation determined Pyle accessed a local police database six times to conduct address and name searches involving his wife and her family. He then accessed a State of Arizona database for additional information.

“These searches were all done while he was on-duty, one right after another over a five minute period of time” Hawse told the board. “All of them for other than law enforcement purposes.”

The use of law enforcement databases for personal reasons is considered computer tampering under Arizona Revised Statutes.

Pyle quit his job in June after only 15 months as a Sierra Vista police officer upon being indicted by a Cochise County grand jury for two Class 6 felonies in connection with his actions. He has a speedy trial deadline of Nov. 14 although no trial date is currently set.

AZPOST staff will notify Pyle of the board’s unanimous decision to initiate proceedings against his state certification. Revocation is one of the options the AZPOST can ultimately approve, although some actions result in suspension or ultimately no action by the board.

Unlike Pyle, Manuel D. Castro was a veteran law enforcement officer before resigning from the Nogales Police Department in May 2021 after allegations were raised about his misuse of a law enforcement database for unauthorized purposes and for his actions in obtained a state title for a vehicle he did not legally own.

According to Hawse, Castro was on-duty in September 2020 when he used his personal cellphone to ask a dispatcher to “run” the license plate of a vehicle parked at the Nogales Post Office. The dispatcher reported back that the license plate was in fact registered in Castro’s name.

A subsequent investigation revealed Castro had given the vehicle to a local man weeks earlier as payment for work the man performed at Castro’s property. This included signing over the title to the man.

However, Castro returned to the post office once off-duty and removed the vehicle he no longer owned to a relative’s property. Hawse told the board Castro later moved the vehicle to his own property where he “hid it behind the house” and removed the license plate.

Castro then “fraudulently obtained a copy of the original title,” Hawse said. With the new duplicate title in hand, Castro signed it over to his wife despite the fact he knew he was not the legal owner.

The man later reported the vehicle as stolen, leading to the investigation which revealed Castro’s action.

“Based on the facts of this case, staff recommends the board initiate proceedings,” Hawse state. The board unanimously agreed.

Hawse also told the board that felony criminal prosecution is still possible against Castro, but to date the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office has not provided the Arizona Attorney General’s Office with certain requested information. Public records show Castro served as a deputy for the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office from September 2002 until early 2014 when he was hired on by Nogales PD.

READ MORE ABOUT PYLE’S PROSECUTION HERE