Beaver County Times
Times photo by KEVIN LORENZI
Mark Grant of Conway, center, seen here Tuesday at the Beaver County Courthouse on Tuesday, has been ordered to stand trial on charges of unlawful use of a computer and tampering with public records or information.
BEAVER — On Nov. 28, Greg Baker approached part-time Baden police officer Mark Grant, saying he had gotten a mysterious phone call from a man expressing concern about Baker’s estranged wife, Linda.
On Tuesday, Grant was ordered to stand trial on charges that he used a fellow officer’s login to get personal information about the mystery man, identified as Jason C. Fady, and giving it to Baker.
Grant said he was simply trying to help someone who had asked for assistance and he never had any inkling that within days, Greg Baker would be accused of wounding his wife and killing an acquaintance of hers in the parking lot of an East Rochester shopping center.
“There was never any criminal intent,” Grant, 35, of 1429 Third Ave., Conway, said Tuesday at his preliminary hearing. Grant hasn’t been on Baden’s schedule since he was charged in December with one count each of unlawful use of a computer and tampering with public records or information.
Grant’s defense attorney, Steve Townsend, said he didn’t believe Grant would have been prosecuted if Baker hadn’t shot his wife and killed Tomas D. Dougherty Jr., 48, of Chippewa Township on Dec. 3.
“Mark Grant had nothing to do with this homicide,” Townsend said. Baker is awaiting trial on charges including criminal homicide and attempted homicide.
Townsend added that he believed police officers often improperly access the state’s Justice Network, or JNET. It’s illegal for police to pull up information if it’s not part of police-related activity, and that information cannot be passed on to those not in law enforcement.
“You’re opening Pandora’s box,” Townsend said.
Greg Baker’s daughter, Kari Baker, testified Tuesday that Grant knew her father because Grant regularly brought a police cruiser to a borough car wash where both Bakers worked.
Kari Baker said that her mother had been undergoing mental health treatment after she had overdosed on pills in mid- or late October, and apparently met a man named Jason while both were hospitalized.
Kari Baker said neither she nor her father knew who Fady was and couldn’t make out his last name on a message left at Greg Baker’s home in New Sewickley Township. Greg and Linda Baker had been estranged and were not living together in late November; she would file for divorce just days before the shooting.
Beaver County Detective Lt. Kim Clements testified Tuesday that Fady and Linda Baker had been dating at the time of the shooting. Prosecutors earlier said Linda Baker and Dougherty were not romantically involved.
Kari Baker said that Fady’s phone message said he was concerned about Linda, and that she and her father worried that Linda Baker might have gotten in trouble with drugs again.
“I just didn’t know why another guy would be concerned about my mother,” Kari Baker said.
Kari Baker also said that on Nov. 28, Greg Baker approached Grant at the car wash, saying that he had a phone number and a name of Jason, and was concerned about Linda Baker.
Prosecutors said Grant’s certification on JNET had expired, so he used fellow part-time officer Robert Cosban’s login to get into the state system and got information including Fady’s address and driver’s license photo, information that he passed on to Baker.
Cosban testified that he was visiting family in New York on Nov. 28. He also said Grant had used his login at least one other time to access records for traffic offenses, several months before the shooting. When Grant said he used Cosban’s login because he didn’t have access to the system, Cosban said he told Grant to “get it fixed.”
JNET security director Ken Parvis testified Tuesday that when Grant accessed Fady’s personal information, he typed in the word “traffic” where officers must give an explanation as to why they want the information. If they don’t give an explanation, the computer system won’t give the information, Parvis said.
Clements said Grant admitted to her that there was no traffic stop involved in accessing Fady’s information.
“The information Mark Grant provided to your father, did you think it was to help (Linda Baker)?” Townsend asked, and Kari Baker replied, “Yes.”
Beaver County Assistant District Attorney Frank Martocci immediately followed by asking Kari Baker, “What did your father do to your mother” within days of the Nov. 28 information exchange.
“That’s very ignorant,” a tearful Baker told Martocci. “We all know in this courtroom what my father did to my mother.”
“(Grant) had no ill will,” Townsend said. “He did what he did as a police officer to help the Bakers and to help Linda Baker if she was indeed in trouble.”
But Martocci countered that Grant violated state statutes guiding the use of JNET, including using Cosban’s logon to gain access.