Trooper arrested for accessing computer info for girlfriend

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BY BRIGITTE RUTHMAN REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

A state trooper has been arrested on allegations of computer crimes related to the release of sensitive investigative information to a third party — his girlfriend.

Mitchell Paz

Mitchell Paz, 29, who works out of Troop I in Bethany, was arrested Monday, accused of providing information to Amanda Marino, 32, of Plymouth, who has a child with Waterbury bar owner Shawn Roka, 32, of Watertown. Roka has drugs and weapons charges pending against him.

Paz was suspended with pay Jan. 9 while state and federal investigations were underway, state police stated in a news release issued Wednesday.

He was charged with two counts of third-degree computer crimes and two counts of conspiracy to commit third-degree computer crimes. Free on $15,000 bond, Paz is due to appear in New Britain Superior Court on March 29.

Paz “exceeded his authorized use of a state police computer system and caused dissemination of information which revealed confidential law enforcement techniques,” state police allege.

Paz’s actions jeopardized the identity of a confidential informant, his arrest warrant alleges.

Roka, who owns McFairlawn Tavern at 216 Frost Road, and Marino, with whom Paz has a romantic relationship, were arrested on related charges and have cases pending in Waterbury Superior Court, state police said.

Placed on leave in January, Paz is the subject of an internal affairs investigation, state police said.

In addition to the criminal charges, Paz must now defend himself against a referral to the state Police Officer Standards and Training Council to avoid decertification as a trooper.

In an investigation conducted by the Organized Crime Investigative Task Force, detectives found a reference on Paz’s cellphone to a published report about Roka’s arrest, police said. Asked to explain, Paz declined.

Roka was charged with operating a drug factory, possession with intent to sell cocaine, cannabis and narcotics, and the illegal transfer of weapons following police raids at his East End restaurant and Watertown home. Weapons and drugs were found at both locations, police allege. The raids resulted from a lengthy investigation by the state police Statewide Organized Crime Investigation Task Force that found Roka was selling drugs out of his bar, police said.

Reports accessed and made available to Marino mentioned a confidential informant, whose identity was jeopardized, the warrant alleges.

Paz “caused an unauthorized display of data to Marino which resulted in an unauthorized disclosure to Roka,” the warrant states.

In an interview with police, Roka said he was provided with the confidential information by Marino in January.

Police said there was no valid reason for Paz to have access to the investigation reports.

The data released to Marino through Paz enabled access that would not otherwise be possible without his authorization, police said. The system is protected by usernames and passwords, and is not intuitive, police said.