MVA clerk innocent of file tampering

March 16, 1994|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Sun Staff Writer

A state Motor Vehicle Administration clerk was cleared of criminal charges alleging that she improperly accessed the agency's computer and changed her name.

Lauren Stephanie Burrow was found not guilty of accessing a computer data base without authorization and altering a public record in a Howard Circuit Court trial Monday.

Ms. Burrow, 28, of the 3400 block of Devonshire Drive in Baltimore, was accused of changing her name seven times while working at the MVA's Columbia office between 1988 and 1992.

The woman, who testified on her own behalf, denied the accusations. She could have been sentenced to eight years in prison and fined up to $6,000 had she been convicted of the charges.

A jury of six men and six women deliberated about four hours TTC before reaching its verdict late Monday night.

"There's no doubt about it, we're pleased," said Kenneth Ravenell, a Baltimore attorney for Ms. Burrow. "An innocent person has been found innocent."

Mr. Ravenell said the prosecution offered Ms. Burrow a plea arrangement that included probation before judgment, which would have meant no criminal record if she met certain conditions set by a judge.

Ms. Burrow, however, maintained her innocence and turned down the prosecution's offer.

Assistant State's Attorney Shawn Larson contended during the one-day trial that Ms. Burrow violated the MVA's policy that requires employees to go to supervisors when they need to conduct personal transactions.

The prosecutor said a state police investigator who questioned Ms. Burrow reported that she admitted to changing her name on computer records because she wanted to see what her name looked like in different ways.

The prosecution's testimony showed that Ms. Burrow's name was changed seven times -- all variations of her given name -- between May 1988 and June 1992, when the alterations were discovered by officials.

During the one-day trial, Mr. Ravenell argued that the prosecution showed no evidence that Ms. Burrow was the one who changed her name on MVA records.

He noted that any employee who knows the MVA's passwords could have gained access to the agency's computer records.

Ms. Burrow's co-workers testified that most of them know each other's passwords.

The acquittal clears the way for Ms. Burrow to get her job back and seek back pay, since she was suspended in June 1992 after being charged, Mr. Ravenell said.

The attorney said he expects Ms. Burrow to seek the back pay, but he said he is uncertain whether his client will pursue the reinstatement.

"I don't know if she'll want to go back there," Mr. Ravenell said. "She's been wronged."

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