Ex-Vernal officer accused of using state database to commit burglary for prescription drugs

Published: Wednesday, April 18 2012 8:00 p.m. MDT

Walker said Murray's case should have been a wake-up call for the state — that it should have implemented more stringent controls on the prescription database after his arrest — but apparently, the state has not.

"To get a password, from what we've been able to ascertain, is not very difficult," Walker said. "And once you have that password, you're able to log onto the system and you can look at anyone."

The state Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, which operates and maintains the database, declined to comment on the allegations made in Smithey and Holmes' notice of claim. The agency did, however, release a statement Wednesday.

"It is the Utah Legislature that allows law enforcement to access the Controlled Substance Database," the statement said. "If legislators want to amend the statute to limit access to medical practitioners, then that would be their call to make."

DOPL also noted that the "terms of use" for the database makes it clear that "any attempt to obtain information from the database by fraud, deceit, or subterfuge" or "unauthorized use of this information" is a third-degree felony. 

Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, helped craft the legislation that expanded the database in 2010. He said the allegations against Murray demonstrate that government is often "behind the curve" in finding ways to adequately secure private information.

"It's something that we continually need to be addressing and monitoring," Daw said, pledging to "bring a group together and craft a solution that would be effective at stopping this kind of abuse."

The state and the city have 60 days to respond to Smithey and Holmes' notice of claim, Walker said.

"If they decide to deny it or they don't want to settle with us," he said, "then the next step for us will be filing a lawsuit in federal court." 

E-mail: gliesik@desnews.com Twitter: GeoffLiesik

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