SANTA ANA, Calif. – A California Highway Patrol officer has been charged with using a department computer to illegally access a confidential law enforcement database to provide vehicle information to a friend who owned a car registration service.
Todd Steaffens, 43, has been charged with three misdemeanor counts of computer access and fraud and three misdemeanor counts of disclosing Department of Motor Vehicle information without authorization.
He faces a maximum sentence of three years in the Orange County Jail if convicted on all charges.
Steaffens has worked for the California Highway Patrol since 2007.
Between February 2020 and July 2020, Steaffens is accused of using a CHP computer at the Westminster office to unlawfully access the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS), which provides law enforcement access to national databases maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and others. Any information obtained from the system can be used for official use only.
Between February 2020 and July 2020, Steaffens is accused of accessing CLETS after receiving text messages from a friend who owns Pacific Automotive Services in Los Angeles asking the officer to run the vehicle identification numbers of different vehicles he was interested in buying. Steaffens is accused of providing that information to the owner of Pacific Automotive Services.
“This conduct of misuse of an official confidential law enforcement database to run a friend’s prospective car purchase has to be about the dumbest thing an officer can do to jeopardize his career and criminal record ,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “Even minor transgressions such as these must be prosecuted because they are unlawful and still rises to the level of abuse of power.”
Steaffens is scheduled to be arraigned on April 21, 2021 at the Central Justice Center in Department C54.
Deputy District Attorney Dustin Chupurdy of Special Prosecutions is prosecuting this case.