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Ex-police officer in Florida accused of misusing badge to get dates with women
A former police officer in Florida has been accused of misusing his badge and police databases for years in attempts to get dates with women, ABC News reported Friday.
Leonel Marines, 36, a former sargeant with the Bradenton Police Department, is under investigation by the FBI after an extensive internal probe found that he used his police status to target at least 150 women for dates or sex while on duty.
"Leonel Marines was not utilizing this data for law enforcement purposes whatsoever," Bradenton Police Chief Melanie Bevan said at a news conference Thursday. "Instead, he was using it in a variety of ways: via social media, cold telephone calls, visits to their homes under the guise of being there for police business, you name it, to try and get dates with these women."
The investigation was first launched in June after a woman accused Marines in a complaint of following her without reason, Bevan said.
After a "chance brief encounter," Marines reportedly showed up at her parents' home asking to speak with her. Her parents did not allow him to see her and requested his name and supervisor, which he refused.
"I sat down with her and her parents and I told them they were heroes, as far as I was concerned," Bevan said. "In this day and age, I think it takes a little bit of courage to be willing to tell a police officer standing at the door, 'No, we don't want to let you talk to our daughter.' "
Bevan said Marines's story "didn't match up" when he was questioned about the incident by department officials, triggering an audit of the officer's searches in the Driver and Vehicle Information Database.
Marines had used the database for "several hundred questionable database queries of women," as far back as 2012, the chief said.
The department identified about 150 women Marines contacted using social media, telephone calls or showing up at their house, local ABC affiliate WFTS reported.
"The results of this audit heightened my concern even greater due to discrepancies in the subjects he was conducting queries on versus his involvement with regards to open and active cases, as well a very, very clear trend of focusing on female versus male names," Bevan said.
The majority of the women targeted by Marines were Hispanic and several did not speak English, according to officials.
He was placed on administrative leave without pay during the course of the investigation and stripped of his badge, firearms and uniform, Bevan said.
Marines resigned in October after 12 years with the department.
ABC News noted that the internal investigation by the Bradenton Police Department also revealed administrative violations "including misuse of criminal justice information, violation of our record security policy and sex on duty."
Bevan, however, said the FBI has now spearheaded a "very active and open criminal investigation."