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Bunnell Cop Arrested Over Computer Porn Conducted Unauthorized Background Searches on City Commissioners

| May 23, 2014

Michael Stavris

Michael Stavris

Michael Stavris is the Bunnell cop who late last month was arrested and charged with computer porn and criminal use of someone else’s personal information online. Subsequent to his arrest, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which is still investigating the case, uncovered evidence that Stavris conducted unauthorized background checks on three sitting city commissioners: Bill Baxley, John Rogers and Elbert Tucker.

Stavris conducted the searches through the Law Enforcement Information Exchange database, commonly known as Linx. That database, containing more than 13 million law enforcement records, facilitates information sharing between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

“It’s supposed to be used for police work. It’s not supposed to be used for personal searches,” Bunnell City Manager Larry Williams said. Williams informed the commission of the unauthorized searches by email last month. “We found that he’d used one of the networks to do a track on three of our commissioners.”

“This all started out when the new police chief came in and he wanted an audit on everything,” Williams said, referring to Tom Foster, who took over the leadership of the Bunnell Police Department in February.

But Stavris may not face any penalties for the breach. The reason: Williams said the database is relatively new and no administrative policies are in place addressing its misuse.

In May 2010, Russell Nasby, then a 45-year-old police officer in the department, was fired after a four month investigation that revealed Nasby conducted unauthorized searches in the state’s driver’s license  and vehicle database, and also visited banned websites. Nasby’s investigation was triggered by a Bunnell Elementary school teacher’s accusation that the officer had been stalking her.

It’s not clear why the disciplinary standard that applied to Nasby does not apply to Stavris. Commissioner John Rogers, at a meeting of the commission last month, spoke of the unauthorized searches and asked what penalties were in place to address the matter. Williams did not answer the question directly at the time, saying the investigation was ongoing. But Williams acknowledged this week that at this point, “it’s a slap on the wrist type thing.”

Stavris was suspended without pay in February, after he was charged. He is accused of having used the name of a Flagler Palm Coast High School student’s name—a girl—to create a Facebook account and pass himself off as that girl. Stavris is also accused of soliciting suggestive images from underage boys through that account. He posted $125,000 bond.

During his three-year tenure as a police officer, Stavris was an open and ardent advocate of the Bunnell Police Department, taking issue with those who were critical of the department and criticizing those who were critical of the department, politicians included. Tucker on several occasions has held discussions in commission meetings about the possibility of disbanding the police department and having the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office provide policing for the city. Baxley and Rogers are usually allies of Tucker, though on the policing issue, Rogers—at least as a commissioner—has consistently lent his support to keeping the department. He had been willing to disband it before becoming commissioner. Stavris was also a supporter of ex-City Manager Armando Martinez, whose tenure was brought to an end last fall by Tucker, Rogers and Baxley.

The unauthorized searches Stavris conducted did not turn up anything of note, Williams said.

Since the Stavris arrest, Williams said that new hires at the department—there was one this week—are being put through a more rigorous hiring process, including the requirement that they submit to a “lie-detector barrage.”

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10 Responses for “Bunnell Cop Arrested Over Computer Porn Conducted Unauthorized Background Searches on City Commissioners”

  1. Fixin up says:

    Why is there not a misconduct clause in the G.O. that includes criminal charges can be applied? Oh, wait. You had something like this done in 2010… you didn’t do this then? that’s right, because this wasn’t going to happen again? do you have a G.O? Do you know what G.O. stands for? C.Y.A. Idiots are not going anywhere. you can’t fix stupid, so C.Y.A. and fix your G.O.

  2. just the facts says:

    After a bit they will be able to check his criminal activity also HAHA

  3. A.S.F. says:

    Ironically, Stavris just boosted Tucker’s argument tremendously. If the facts support what is written above–What a sick character!

  4. Angel says:

    Another day, another scandal in Bunnell. What a place.

  5. Livesinpalmcoast says:

    Yup and another example why no one should trust cops…. They are here to serve and protect, yea right?!?! Cops think who they are and can get away with doing whatever they want, treat people as if they were beneath them….. No one is better than anyone…..

  6. Seminole Pride says:

    Why don’t they have an IT department in place to monitor the use of property of the city, by city employees ? If they did they would have never been able to access websites beyond the functions of those computers. So upset at seeing money wasted on poor management of our city, and no SOP in place.

  7. Wolley Segap says:

    Let’s remember that it was cops who arrested this guy..Even when something would surely tarnish them and their profession, they act and work to weed out the bad guys. No one has a crystal ball where they can tell the future behavior of a person seeking a career in law enforcement. Some, like this guy, turn their police department upside down and puts all law enforcement in a terrible light. 99% of cops are out there for all the right reasons… the 1% are an unfortunate burden on their departments and society.

  8. Silly me says:

    No one can know the inner workings of this guys mind. Since the City is in such poor shape financially; maybe they should outsource that department. Palm Coast has one officer who acts as a liason between the City and the SO. They pay the SO for a certain number of officers. it has to be cheaper to outsource the service due to Workers Comp and all of the other inherent liabilities. The new Police Chief could stay on as a department head serving as the liason. Maybe Tucker’s idea to outsource the department should be investigated without the emotions of the Commission and residents. That or just raise the taxes.

  9. Literate says:

    So tell me, who’s gonna “police” the police, lol dont you think they should know better? Or are they too good to do any wrong? Some people are just ridiculous

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