As an Omaha police detective, Kevin Cave sold addresses he found in a law enforcement database on the side, picking up about $16,000.
As a result, Cave lost his job, his city pension and now he’s a convicted felon.
A federal judge on Friday sentenced Cave to three years probation and fined him $8,000. Cave could have received six months in prison.
The Nebraska Criminal Justice Information System database contains information on suspects and witnesses, criminal histories, driver’s license information and other data.
Cave, 37, of Bellevue gave leads from that database to car dealerships and repossession companies on the location of vehicles they wanted back from owners who had defaulted on loans.
The database is restricted to legitimate police work, and Cave’s misdeeds over 29 months were an abuse of power, “a violation of trust,” said Jan Sharp, chief criminal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Omaha.
Cave’s attorney, Mike Fabian, said the price already paid by Cave — who left the Omaha Police Department after his side business was discovered by a lieutenant — had been significant. The nearly 10-year cop now works as a courier.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon acknowledged that Cave lost his job and suffered the financial consequences. But the judge said he wanted to deliver a sentence that would deter other officers from misusing the database.
Bataillon said he had “no doubt’’ that other police officers have improperly used the database, though they may not have been motivated by money.
Unlike the others, “Mr. Cave got caught,’’ Bataillon said.
Cave resigned in September 2012, about a week after Chief Todd Schmaderer recommended he be fired.
Cave, who declined to address Bataillon during the sentencing hearing, pleaded guilty in August to exceeding authorized access to a protected computer for private financial gain.
The cost of the crime: Because he left the department 26 days short of 10 years, Cave lost the city’s contribution to his pension, which Fabian estimated at about $150,000.
The difference between what Cave would have earned as an officer had he worked 10 more years and what he will earn if he continues to work as a courier is about $450,000, Fabian said.
Cave acknowledged what he had been doing when confronted, Fabian said, and he could have declined to talk to internal affairs officers.
He said Cave provided addresses but not “other personal information.” Most of the information he provided could have been obtained from sources without anyone having to violate the law, Fabian said.
An Omaha police spokeswoman has declined to say whether the Police Department has taken steps to prevent misuse of law enforcement databases. It reviews “protocols in the aftermath of incidents,” the spokeswoman said.