Newark Internal Affairs Investigation Results in Arrest of Police Captain Accused of Data Breach

Data Breach by Newark Police CaptainA captain with the Newark Police Department was caught stealing confidential information from a computer database, ultimately resulting in the loss of his job with law enforcement.

The suspect in the computer theft case is 62-year-old Anthony Buono, a resident of Millstone Township in Monmouth County and a captain on the Newark police force – at least he was a captain until recently pleading guilty to very serious criminal charges. Buono used his high-ranking position with the police department to gain access to a computer database typically reserved for use by police investigators during insurance fraud investigations. Buono reportedly took information from the database and passed it along to Dino D’Elia, another police officer in Newark. D’Elia then sold the confidential information to individuals and made as much as $100 per computer search – with both Buono and D’Elia sharing the profits. According to prosecutors, Buono accessed the database for unlawful purposes more than 900 times before authorities discovered the criminal conduct in 2014.

The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Official Corruption Unit and the Newark Police Department Internal Affairs Unit worked together on an investigation into the suspects. In 2015, both Buono and D’Elia were formally charged.

N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2: NJ Conspiracy Charges

Buono and D’Elia were charged with computer theft and conspiracy. The conspiracy charge stemmed from the fact that two people, Buono and D’Elia, had knowingly engaged in conduct constituting a crime. As set forth by N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2, conspiracy is an indictable felony and can result in severe penalties.

Here are the parts of the New Jersey conspiracy statute most relevant to this case:

2C:5-2. Conspiracy:
a. Definition of conspiracy. A person is guilty of conspiracy with another person or persons to commit a crime if with the purpose of promoting or facilitating its commission he:
(1) Agrees with such other person or persons that they or one or more of them will engage in conduct which constitutes such crime or an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime; or
(2) Agrees to aid such other person or persons in the planning or commission of such crime or of an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime.
b. Scope of conspiratorial relationship. If a person guilty of conspiracy, as defined by subsection a. of this section, knows that a person with whom he conspires to commit a crime has conspired with another person or persons to commit the same crime, he is guilty of conspiring with such other person or persons, whether or not he knows their identity, to commit such crime.
c. Conspiracy with multiple objectives. If a person conspires to commit a number of crimes, he is guilty of only one conspiracy so long as such multiple crimes are the object of the same agreement or continuous conspiratorial relationship. It shall not be a defense to a charge under this section that one or more of the objectives of the conspiracy was not criminal; provided that one or more of its objectives or the means of promoting or facilitating an objective of the conspiracy is criminal.
d. Overt act. No person may be convicted of conspiracy to commit a crime other than a crime of the first or second degree or distribution or possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog as defined in chapter 35 of this title, unless an overt act in pursuance of such conspiracy is proved to have been done by him or by a person with whom he conspired.

Newark, NJ Police Officers “Compromise the Public’s Trust” When They Commit Crimes

Shortly after Buono and D’Elia were arrested and criminally charged in 2014, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray issued a statement and said that members of the public “should not have to worry that sensitive information will be illegally accessed” by police officers. Murray added that the two defendants in this case had “compromised the public’s trust” by unlawfully accessing confidential information and then selling that information.

To find out what happened to Buono and D’Elia in the data breach case, read Part Two of this blog series.