The owner of a private security company could spend more than two years in prison after he was found guilty Friday of using the state’s criminal information network to harass his neighbor.
A Wake County Superior Court jury found Joseph Michael Conover guilty of all eight counts of accessing the state’s computers to look up the personal information of a neighbor with whom he had an ongoing dispute.
Superior Court Judge Reuben Young then sentenced Conover, 38, the former police chief of the Nova Company Police Agency, to three consecutive prison sentences that total 18 to 33 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised probation.
Prosecutors say Conover used the state’s computer database to find information about his neighbor, Reuben Smith, who had complained that Conover was letting his dog urinate and defecate in his yard. Last April, after Smith called a Raleigh police officer to try to resolve the issue, he said Conover put on his Nova uniform and walked back and forth with the dog in front of his home 10 times.
Prosecutors said Conover used the state’s criminal information database to check the license plate numbers of vehicles parked in the driveway of Smith’s home. Conover testified that he used the database after Smith’s son threatened his dog.
The state Department of Justice revoked Conover’s commission as a police officer last March. He faces other related charges after investigators accused him of using a Taser to “electrically shock” three people “without legal justification or excuse,” and with pepper spraying another man “and rubbing the victim’s face with a shirt,” according to indictments filed at the Wake County Clerk of Courts Office.
The charges filed against Conover in those cases include four felony counts of obstruction of justice, one count of second-degree kidnapping, four counts of willful failure to discharge duties and three misdemeanor counts of simple assault. Those cases are expected to go to trial by summer.