Federal judge releases Painter on own recognizance - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Federal judge releases Painter on own recognizance

Murphy Painter Murphy Painter

The embattled former commissioner of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control was released on his own recognizance by a federal judge Tuesday morning.

Murphy Painter was not required to post any bond, but must promise to return to court when needed. Painter is accused of using his power and access to spy on people, mainly women. Painter will be free throughout his trial, with some supervisions.

He surrendered his passport and had to remove an extensive gun collection from his house. His next appearance will be in one week.

This was the 59-year-old's initial appearance in federal court Tuesday morning for a hearing after being indicted on computer fraud, making false statements and aggravated identity theft by a grand jury on May 23.

Painter appeared before Magistrate Judge Stephen Riedlinger at 11 a.m.

The Office of the State Inspector General said it investigated Painter for nearly five years following a complaint from a former ATC employee.

Inspector General Stephen Street said Kelli Suire claimed Painter was stalking her. He said investigators later found Painter used state and Federal Bureau of Investigations databases to get personal information about Suire and her attorney, Jill Craft.

US Attorney Don Cazayoux said if Painter is convicted of the above charges, he could face a maximum of 82 years in prison and fines up to more than $12 million.

The indictment alleges Painter made false statements to FBI agents. He is accused of using law enforcement databases for "non-official criminal justice purposes." The indictment also claims Painter exceeded his authorized access and obtained person identification information on several people throughout the area. 

Investigators said between February 25, 2005 and August 13, 2010 Painter abused his power, mostly looking for personal information about females in the New Orleans, Gonzales and Baton Rouge areas.

Painter resigned from his position as head of ATC in August 2010. Shortly after, allegations surfaced that he conducted illegal criminal background checks.

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