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Salt Lake police IT employee arrested, accused of giving alleged sex trafficker inside information

The Salt Lake City Public Safety Building is pictured on July 10, 2013.
The Salt Lake City Public Safety Building is pictured on July 10, 2013.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

An information technology employee for Salt Lake City who investigators say had access to restricted information intended only for police officers, has been arrested and accused of assisting a Bountiful man recently charged with human trafficking.

Patrick Kevin Driscoll, 50, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on Wednesday for investigation of two counts of computer crimes, exploiting prostitution, aiding prostitution, obstructing justice and theft.

According to a police booking affidavit, Driscoll is an associate of Michael Joe Ricks, 49, who was charged earlier this month in 3rd District Court with 15 felonies and misdemeanors, including two counts of aggravated human trafficking for forced sexual exploitation and two counts of aggravated exploitation of prostitution.

Investigators believe Ricks would recruit women already working in the commercial sex industry, and then manipulate and control them once they began working for him, according to charging documents. He also is accused of distributing cocaine, Suboxone, marijuana and prescription drugs, and providing heroin to the women working for him.

As the Utah Attorney General’s Office continued to investigate Ricks, a woman who claimed she had also been exploited by Driscoll came forward.

The woman told investigators that Driscoll “was involved in the exploitation of women in conjunction with Michael Ricks and would provide Ricks with law enforcement sensitive data that was not available to the public,” the affidavit states.

The woman, who worked in the commercial sex industry, said “she had specifically traded sex for money or information from Driscoll,” according to the affidavit, and claimed Ricks would make her perform sex acts with Driscoll for information intended to help Ricks avoid being arrested.

The woman provided investigators with a screenshot of a cash app in which Driscoll made a payment to her “for either sex or information,” the affidavit states. At one point, Driscoll allegedly even took the woman to the Salt Lake City Police Department where he had access to the underground parking garage.

The woman “believed Driscoll to be a police officer because he was able to access the police station in addition to being able to provide Ricks and others with law enforcement sensitive data,” according to the affidavit. Driscoll was known as “the Guardian,” according to the woman, and “would use his position as an employee at Salt Lake City to access law enforcement databases and other nonpublic sources and provide this sensitive information to individuals involved in illicit activities.”

Specifically, Driscoll, would provide “phone numbers and names of police officers working undercover — specifically those who investigate prostitution and human trafficking crimes” — as well as “information on police operations occurring in areas where Ricks operated apartments and hotels.

“Driscoll would send information directly to Ricks and Ricks was able to use that information to conceal his illegal activity from law enforcement,” according to the arrest report.

Police say Driscoll primarily communicated through a third-party app called Signal, which “has end-to-end encryption and messages typically delete after 30 seconds.” Investigators also searched the cellphones of two women and found messages that told one woman she would “end up in the desert” if she told anyone about Ricks or the Guardian. Other messages gave information about police activity where they were working.

Investigators with the attorney general’s office confirmed that Driscoll is an Information Management Services employee with Salt Lake City “and did have full access to the police department as well as all city and law enforcement databases,” the affidavit says. He was not a certified law enforcer.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said in a prepared statement Thursday that his department assisted agents with the attorney general’s office to locate and detain Driscoll at the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building on Wednesday.

Driscoll was interviewed Wednesday and “admitted that he had accessed Salt Lake City databases from his home residence, but claimed the information he provided to Ricks (and two women) was false and not legitimate,” the affidavit states. Agents then served a search warrant on Driscoll’s home and reported finding “electronic storage devices which contained confidential files, including sensitive law enforcement data, to include: the names of undercover officers, metro gang files, and other law enforcement restricted documents that could only be accessed through the use of multiple restricted databases or files.”

Police believe Driscoll is a “substantial danger” to the community and have asked that he be held in the Salt Lake County Jail without bail pending charges.

“Law enforcement agents have spoken with police and city administrators at Salt Lake City, and there is a concern that Driscoll not only has the knowledge, but the means, to shut down all city IT services should he desire. At this junction, city officials are unsure as to the extent or depth of the files that have been accessed,” the affidavit says.

“The allegations, as described in court documents, are very concerning,” Brown said.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall also issued a brief statement Thursday following the announcement of Driscoll’s arrest, saying she is “deeply troubled by the circumstances and information surrounding the arrest of a Salt Lake City Corp. IMS employee. Salt Lake City Corp. is in full cooperation with the Utah Attorney General’s Office and the employee is on administrative leave pending potential disciplinary action. I’m urging the HR department to move through the disciplinary process quickly to ensure this is resolved as fast as possible.”