Police handcuffsIn June 2018, in Bradenton, Florida, a Gulf Coast community south of Tampa. A couple answered their front door after hearing an officer’s knock and soon realized something strange was happening.

Bradenton Police Seargent Leonel Marines was standing at the door and asked if he could speak with the couples adult daughter. Sgt. Marines had momentarily encountered the young woman earlier that day in a parking lot and then followed her home.

Now, standing at the parent’s door, Sgt. Marines, 36, said that he needed to speak with the couple’s daughter due to a “domestic incident.”

Knowing that their daughter had not been involved with any situation that would require her to speak with police officials they refused Sgt. Marines request then asked for his name and the name of his supervisor. Marines refused to answer their questions and quickly left.  The parents immediately called the police station to report the incident.

That phone call would eventually tip off police to a pattern of behavior that Bevan said: “cast a dark shadow on our law enforcement profession.” According to the chief, her department learned that Sgt. Marines basically used a sensitive database to mine information for his own personal dating service.

“To get right to the root of the matter, Leonel Marines was not utilizing this data for law enforcement purposes whatsoever,” Bevan told reporters. “Instead he was using it in a variety of ways – from social media, cold telephone calls, visits to their home under the guise of being there for police business, you name it – trying to get dates with these women. He was very persistent and successful at times in his efforts to do so.”

Sgt. Marines is a 12-year veteran of the Bradenton police department as well as being a supervisor. He was taken off patrol once the initial complaint was made against him last summer. In October, he resigned. The investigation continued with detectives reaching out to 150 women, all who are said to have received inappropriate contact from marines.

Bevan said the FBI is currently reviewing the case for possible criminal charges against Marines. The former police officer has yet to respond publicly to the allegations, and could not be reached for comment.

Bevan credited the unidentified parents of the young woman for sparking the inquiry.

“They were heroes, as far as I’m concerned,” the chief told reporters. “In this day and age, it takes a little bit of courage to tell a police officer standing at their door . . . ‘No, we don’t want to let you talk to our daughter because we don’t get the right feeling about this.'”

But the recent episode was not the first time Marines had landed in administrative hot water over his use of a police database. According to the Bradenton Herald, in March 2012 a woman filed a complaint with the department over an encounter with Marines the previous November.

She told the department Marines had come to her home several times, “asking her personal questions that seemed unrelated to any police investigation and she didn’t know him personally,” the Herald reported, citing an internal affairs report.

It had been determined that Marines had accessed  the woman’s personal information twice before by using the Driver and Vehicle Information Database (D.A.V.I.D.),

Investigators then learned Marines had also accessed the information of eight other people. The officer said he could not remember if he had accessed the data for police business or not. According to the Herald, Marines misuse of police data in 2012 resulted in a three-day suspension. It seems that that slap on the wrist did not dissuade Marines from allegedly continuing to access information about women.

Investigators contacted around 150 women he had contacted as part of the investigation, Bevan said.

They also determined he had sex with some of the women while on duty. The chief would not go into specifics of how many sexual relationships Marines allegedly had from the information he accessed. She also would not specify what charges the FBI was pursuing as part of the investigation.

But the chief said they do believe there are more women out there who may have had to contact with the former officer.

“As far as I’m concerned, he betrayed the oath he swore to,” she told reporters.

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