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State Employee's Unauthorized Background Checks Investigated

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Thomas Dean, a probation officer the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating for allegedly abusing his power Thomas Dean, a probation officer the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating for allegedly abusing his power

Another state employee is in trouble for running unauthorized criminal background checks.

A NewsChannel 5 investigation reveals the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating a probation officer for abusing his power.

This comes less than a month after the Highway Patrol fired a state trooper for doing the same thing.

"Mr. Dean, can we ask you a question?" asked NewsChannel 5 investigative reporter Ben Hall.

Thomas Dean, a state probation officer, declined comment regarding allegations that he violated people's privacy by running unauthorized criminal background checks.

According to a Metro police report, he admitted accessing the criminal justice portal to get personal information about his neighbors.

"He was taking down license plates?" Hall asked.

"Yea, he was," said Jackeline Trippiedi, who lives near Dean.

"What was he doing with the license plates?" Hall asked.

"I don't know. He had a pad like this and he was writing the license plates and he took three plates from there," she said.

She called police in August when Dean showed up at a family gathering. 

The police report said Dean "called them a bunch of wetbacks." The report also said he used his position as a state parole officer and "admitted to running the license numbers through the Portal and admitted he did so because they were all illegal."

"How can he be checking on you? That's no good. We're not criminal we're not doing nothing wrong," she said.

Trippiedi and her family are here legally.

The Board of Probation and Parole immediately put Dean on administrative leave but he continues to get his full salary. 

He's been paid for the last six weeks while the investigation continues - but he hasn't had to report to work.

In September, the Tennessee Highway Patrol fired Lt. Ronnie Shirley after he ran unauthorized background checks on nearly 200 hundred people. Now, the TBI is investigating how many people Dean may have looked up.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates discovered Dean is also a private investigator.

The TBI is trying to figure out if he used the computer for his private business. 

But there's no doubt he had little tolerance for Trippiedi and her family when he showed up at their house.

"He said he is immigration and he is going to put us in jail," Trippiedi said.

"In this police report you identify yourself as an immigration officer. Why did you do that?" Hall asked Dean who refused to answer his questions.

When the TBI is finished with the investigation, it will turn the information over to District Attorney General Torry Johnson.  He will decide whether to bring criminal charges.

Back to NewsChannel 5 Investigates

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