EACH FACES POSSIBLE ONE YEAR IN PRISON AND $100,000 FINE IF CONVICTED
by Debra Mullins
(May 13, 2010) — On Wednesday, May 12, 2010, nine former contract workers from the U.S Department of Education were indicted on charges they “intentionally exceeded authorized access to a computer” by accessing Mr. Obama’s student loan records without authorization between July 26, 2007 and March 13, 2009. The indictments were handed down by a federal grand jury in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa in Davenport. According to a press release issued by U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Klinefeldt, the indictments were initiated after investigations were conducted by the Department of Education and the Inspector General.
The contract workers were employed by Vangent Inc., a provider of outsourcing services to private companies and various government agencies including the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid. Vangent Inc. is headquartered in Arlington, VA, and it maintains a regional office in Coralville, IA.
The names of indicted on one or more counts of unauthorized access of Mr. Obama’s student loan records:
Mercedes Costoyas, 53, one count on or about March 13, 2009;
Gary N. Grenell, 58, one count on or about September 25, 2008;
Julie L. Kline, 38, one count on or about December 24, 2008;
Andrew J. Lage, 54, one count on or about July 26, 2007;
John P. Phommivong, 29, one count or about September 9, 2008;
Anna C. Rhodes, 32, two counts on or about September 9, and September 11, 2008;
Patrick E. Roan, 51, one count on or about December 21, 2007;
Sandra Teague, 54, one count on or about August 27, 2008; and
Lisa Torney, 49, one count on or about November 1, 2008
Andrew Lage informed the Associated Press on Wednesday evening that he did not know about the indictment and he declined comment.
Sandra Teague told a television reporter for a Cedar Rapids television station, KRCG, “I don’t know what the others did, but I know that I did not do it.”
According to Justin Foss, reporting for Eastern Iowa News Now, “Teague said she worked for Vangent for 10 years before she was dismissed ‘with cause’ in she recalls, August 2008 and walked from the building by company officials. ‘The company never told me the reason I was dismissed,’ said Teague, who is enrolled in classes at the University of Iowa.”
According to a May 13, 2010 update from Eastern Iowa News Now, a statement was obtained from Vangent Inc. Eileen Cassidy Rivera, vice president of communications and investor relations, said: “An investigation identified a number of Vangent employees, among others, who inappropriately accessed student loan records. The Vangent employees violated Vangent’s security policies and were promptly terminated from the company in June 2009. Vangent was not the subject of the investigation.” In a follow-up email Riveria stated: “Vangent officials do not believe the violation of company security policies was politically motivated.”
Of the nine, six were registered voters, all whom voted in the 2008 General Election. Four are registered Democrats, and the other two are registered Republicans.
All nine are scheduled to be arraigned in federal court on May 24, 2010 at 2:00 PM. If convicted, each faces up to one year in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.
UPDATE, May 25, 2010: Eight of the nine persons indicted for accessing Mr. Obama’s student loan records without permission appeared in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa on May 24, 2010. All eight plead “not guilty.” The ninth person, Gary Grenell, is traveling outside the country, and his attorney entered a “not guilty” plea on his behalf. The preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 14, 2010 and the trial will commence on July 8, 2010. David Treimer, attorney for one of the defendants, stated the charges are focused on the security breach rather than the manner in which the information may have been used or disseminated. All of the accused worked for Vangent Inc., a provider of outsourcing services to various federal agencies.
The indictments were handed down by a grand jury earlier this month at the bequest of U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Klinefeldt, an Obama appointee in 2009. The Honorable Judge E. Gritzner, a President George W. Bush appointee in 2001, is presiding.