A University employee with access to sensitive student information was arrested and charged with one count of felony theft by extortion Monday evening, and police said they expect their investigation to lead them to more student victims.
Dorin Dehelean, an Internet technology security analyst associate for Enterprise Information Technology Services, was arrested after Laura Elizabeth Adams, a 25-year-old University student, told police he had attempted to extort her on Jan. 25, according to University Police.
Because of his position, Dehelean was given student names attached to IP addresses, which music industry officials said were committing copyright infringement.
Although this information is typically used by student judiciary, police said Dehelean attempted to use it to extort Adams.
“He told the student that information that would cause her to be held accountable would disappear for a sum of money,” University Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said. “The conversation went back and forth and was concluded with the victim stating the fact that she couldn’t come up with that sum of money.”
Adams told The Red & Black Dehelean originally asked for $800.
She reported the incident to a University official, who in turn called the police.
An investigation was launched which ended with a female officer, posing as Adams, completing a transaction with Dehelean on Feb. 1.
Dehelean has been charged with one count of theft by extortion, however, police believe Adams may not have been Dehelean’s only victim.
“Information we have makes us believe he’s had contact with other victims,” Williamson said. “We are running down leads that may lead to other individuals.”
Police have not ruled out the involvement of other University employees.
“We don’t want to limit possibilities,” Williamson said. “If an employee sees another problem in EITS, we want them to come forward.”
Dehelean did not have access to personal information such as dates of birth or social security numbers.
“This person was in charge of monitoring improper uses of the Internet,” said Tom Jackson, vice president of public affairs. “By the nature of his job, he would have that information. But most employees are good and won’t break the law. If he had a history of this kind of thing, we wouldn’t have hired him.”
However, since no background check was conducted at the time of his hire, EITS had no way of knowing whether or not Dehelean had any sort of criminal record.
“He was hired on Dec. 3, 2007,” Jackson said. “The Board of Regents started requiring background checks on all employees on Jan. 1, 2008. We can argue all day about if that was too late or too early, but that is when it started. I don’t know that a background check would reveal someone’s propensity to go out and commit extortion.”
University Police are encouraging any student who has been contacted or has completed a transaction with Dehelean to come forward.
“You will not get in trouble,” Williamson said, “and you have done nothing wrong.”