In Colorado, Investigators Examine Theft of PC with State Databases

Police are questioning an Affiliated Computer Services employee in connection with the theft of a computer that contained state-owned databases with the personal information of about 1.4 million people.

Police have not recovered the computer, a desktop model swiped from the Denver offices of ACS, but an employee of the company is a key suspect in the crime, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

No charges have been filed, and police would not release the employee's name. ACS spokesman Kevin Lightfoot referred all questions about the investigation to authorities.

The computer contained information from the state's Family Support Registry and the New Hire Directory, which ACS has maintained for the Department of Human Services since 1999.

The registry holds the personal information - name, date of birth, address and Social Security number - of about 500,000 child-support payers and recipients. The directory also has the personal information of every new hire in Colorado and some other states - nearly 1 million names - which employers must file with the state each month.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Denver Police Department are investigating the theft. Spokesmen for both agencies refused to comment Friday, citing the ongoing investigation.

Lightfoot has said that no evidence of identity theft has resulted from the crime, but several people have called The Denver Post to say they've had cases of phony purchases or credit-card fraud since the computer theft the weekend of Oct. 14.

"I can't say one is related to the other, but someone tried to buy $3,000 worth of stuff from Best Buy using an old address of mine and getting credit in my name," said Patrick Sheridan, a 47-year-old Lakewood resident who pays child support.

"This all happened just days after the computer was stolen."

Others complain their information was kept on the database years after their child support obligation was over and question why it has not been purged.

And some say they received a letter informing them of the crime and risk for identity theft - ACS said it will eventually inform all 1.4 million people - even though they haven't gotten a new job in years and never had a child-support obligation.

The theft is the latest in a string of problems for the Dallas-based Fortune 500 company.

A subsidiary - ACS Public Sector Solutions - is charged in Alberta with bribing Edmonton police officials over a six-

year period, allegedly to curry favor that landed the firm a 20-year no-bid contract worth $90 million to run the city's lucrative red-light camera and photo-radar program.

Prosecutors also charged the Dallas parent company with bribery, but the charge was withdrawn Tuesday. A preliminary hearing on the bribery case involving the subsidiary is scheduled for September 2007.

Two Canadian police also were charged with breach of trust and accepting a secret commission in connection with the case. ACS allegedly offered them all-expenses-paid luxury trips to Las Vegas, tickets to NHL games and the use of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, according to published reports.

ACS runs photo radar programs in at least 33 U.S. cities and ran a similar program for Denver police until that $2 million contract expired in 2003, city records show.

The company has had other issues with its public-sector work in Colorado.

In February, thieves made off with ACS magnetic data tapes from Denver International Airport that contained credit-card information from people using their cards to pay for parking.

In 2004, a Weld County jail inmate got into the county's ACS-maintained computer system and downloaded the personal information of dozens of county employees.


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