2 former Ala. court employees accused of stealing

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Two former employees of the Alabama court system have been indicted on federal charges accusing them of stealing computer programming code for the state's court data system.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said a federal grand jury in Montgomery indicted 58-year-old Mike Carroll and 35-year-old Jill Hawthorne on Wednesday. Carroll is the former director of Information Systems for the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts and Hawthorne is a former database administrator for the courts. Both are from Montgomery.

Court records do not indicate if they have attorneys yet.

They are accused of stealing code for the county court records database called Namemaster, as well as its digital blueprint, and transferring it to CyberBest Technology, a software development firm, in November 2007. The two are also accused of facilitating the transfer of thousands of Jefferson County court records from the Namemaster dataset to the company.

CyberBest Technology is based in Orlando, Fla., but also has an office in Montgomery. The company did not immediately respond to telephone calls and an email seeking comment Thursday.

Records show the company has done work for many state and local government agencies in Alabama, including the Alabama Supreme Court and the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center.

Dean Hartzog, spokesman for Alabama's Administrative Office of Courts, said Carroll was employed from June 1976 until his retirement in July 2007, and Hawthorne was employed from August 1998 until her termination in March 2010.

When asked if any court records were jeopardized or any identifies stolen, Hartzog said, "AOC can't make any comment about an ongoing criminal investigation."

Carroll was connected to the case of Madison County Circuit Clerk Jane Smith, who pleaded guilty in March to three misdemeanor charges of aiding and abetting unauthorized computer access. Smith admitted sharing her high-level password with a consultant doing work on the local court system's computers, but she said she didn't know it was a crime. Carroll was the consultant, but he was not charged in the case.

Smith, who was fined $5,000 and placed on a year's probation, won re-election last week.

That case, like the current case, was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service.

If convicted, Carroll and Hawthorne face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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