A police worker who used a colleague's computer log-on to leak confidential information to a target of a major drugs investigation for a promised fee of $5000 has been sentenced to a four months' community detention.
Motorway support officer Darren Ian Hodgetts, 34, was sentenced at the Auckland District Court today after admitting he used the national police computer system to look up details of an Auckland man who happened to be under surveillance in Operation Ark, which led to 22 arrests in November, last year.
The sentence will mean that he has to be at home between the hours of 10pm and 6am, seven days a week.
The 12-month investigation targeted the manufacture and supply of Ecstasy, or pills purporting to be the class-B drug, which were linked to serious aggression that led to people, some just schoolgirls, being taken to hospitals in Auckland and Hamilton.
Hodgetts was one of two non-sworn police staff charged and could lose his job after pleading guilty to accessing the computer system for a dishonest purpose.
Two charges of participating in an organised crime group and perverting the course of justice were dropped.
His future with the police will be determined after an internal employment hearing.
Hodgetts lawyer, Todd Simmonds said his client is genuinely sorry for what he has done.
"Mr Hodgetts is fundamentally a decent and generous young man who has in this case made a serious blunder.''
He said he was aware that he had breached the trust of the New Zealand police.
"He sincerely apologises to the Police through me as his counsel for any harm that his actions may have caused to their good name and reputation within the community.''
Court documents released to the Herald last month show Hodgetts, who worked in Ellerslie, was approached by an associate last July to do a police computer check on Shalendra Singh.
In a bugged phone conversation, Singh allegedly arranged with Hodgetts' associate - who has interim name suppression - to organise a police computer check to establish whether there was any police interest in him.
Singh, 32, allegedly agreed to pay $5000 for the confidential information. At first, Hodgetts was unable to obtain Singh's police file because his security clearance was not high enough. He later checked the database using a computer logged on under a police colleague's identity, in a bid to hide his unlawful access.
Hodgetts also told his associate that if police asked why he was checking on Singh, he would say he had stopped him while on motorway patrol. Hodgetts did another check and printed two pages of information, which was given to his associate and faxed to Singh.
Singh queried the information and said it was worth only $200 - not the $5000 promised.
Singh faces 27 charges including supplying methamphetamine and Ecstasy, as well as money-laundering more than $100,000.
There is no suggestion Hodgetts knew Singh was allegedly involved in the drug distribution syndicate.
Police have seized about $14 million worth of assets in raids of the alleged syndicate in November, including homes worth millions, up to $1 million in cash, and luxury cars.
At the time of the arrests, Detective Inspector Bruce Good said the alleged syndicate was pressing tens of thousands of potentially fatal tablets a week, which sold for at least $40 each.