Ex-trooper reprimanded for CORI violations

Says State Police officers routinely used system inappropriately

MICHAEL SZYMANSKI, who was reprimanded this month by the state Board of Bar Overseers for improperly accessing criminal records when he was a state trooper, said many of his colleagues on the force did the same thing.

“I was a trooper for a long time and it was a common practice for troopers to run someone’s name through the CORI system for reasons besides law enforcement,” Szymanski said, referring to the Criminal Offender Record Information system.

“I can’t tell you how many times I saw troopers run their next-door neighbor through CORI, run their old girlfriends’ names, or run someone who they’re having a dispute with,” he said.  “I’ve seen a million different guys using CORI inappropriately.”

Symanski, who retired as a state trooper in March, said he used a computer located in the barracks to access the CORI system in connection with three domestic dispute cases he was handling as part of his private law practice. Symanski, who has been practicing law for 15 years, was allowed to moonlight as an attorney as long as he stayed away from criminal cases.

By acquiring CORI information that was not for legitimate law enforcement purposes, Szymanski violated the Massachusetts rules of professional conduct for lawyers, the Board of Bar Overseers ruled. His public reprimand stays on his record as an attorney, but there was no other punishment levied against him.

“All of a sudden it became a problem for you to do that,” Szymanski said of his use of CORI records. “And they cracked down on it, and I got caught in the crosshairs.  And I suffered the consequences.”

Szymanski said when he got caught he told the truth.  “I never lied to the State Police,” he said.  “I told them what I did.  When they asked me questions about it, I never gave them any misinformation.  And they reported me to the bar.  And I got a public reprimand.”

State Police spokesman David Procopio said law enforcement personnel are trained to access CORI records only for law enforcement purposes. “Access to CORI information for non-law enforcement purposes is not a common practice,” Procopio said. “It is obviously not condoned by the department, and whenever the department has learned it has occurred, it has conducted internal investigations and taken appropriate action.”

Meet the Author
Szymanski said he was honorably discharged from the state police after 20 years of service, and that his retirement had nothing to do with his reprimand.  “I was eligible for a pension after 20 years, and it was my plan all along to retire at that time,” he said.

The reprimand of Szymanski comes at a time when the State Police are reeling from the prosecution of a number of troopers for illegally collecting overtime.