DAVENPORT, Iowa - Nine people charged with illegally accessing President Barack Obama's student loan records while employed for a Department of Education contractor in Iowa pleaded not guilty Monday in federal court.
The former employees of Vangent Inc. are accused of gaining access to a computer at the contractor's office in Coralville between July 2007 and March 2009 and getting into Obama's records while he was either a candidate for president, president-elect or president.
They appeared in U.S. District Court in Davenport, where they were read the charges against them and one by one entered their pleas.
U.S District Court Judge Celeste F. Bremer scheduled a trial for July 6 and released the defendants on promises to appear. Bremer told them not to leave the state and to stay employed or seek jobs. They can't have guns or possess other weapons, and they're under pretrial supervision.
Those charged are Gary Grenell, 58; Andrew J. Lage, 54, Patrick E. Roan, 51, Sandra Teague, 54, and Mercedes Costoyas, 53, all of Iowa City; Lisa Torney, 49, of Coralville; Anne C. Rhodes, 32, of Ainsworth; Julie L. Kline, 38, of West Branch; and John P. Phommivong, 29, of North Liberty.
All but Rhodes face one count of exceeding authorized computer access. Rhodes faces two counts because she allegedly went into Obama's records twice. Each count is punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
All but Grenell were in court to answer to the charges. Court officials said he was out of the country and his attorney entered his plea on his behalf.
Lage, Costoyas and Phommivong all declined to comment.
Phommivong's attorney, David Treimer, said he didn't know the specifics of the allegations, but he believed Phommivong and the others only accessed Obama's student loan records out of curiosity.
"To my knowledge, nothing was done with the records," Treimer said.
Teague's attorney, Matthew Leddin, said he didn't know the details of the allegations.
Vangent Inc. spokeswoman Eileen Rivera said earlier this month that the workers were let go last June for violating the company's security policy after it learned what had occurred. She said it didn't appear the former workers had misused any information.
A grand jury indicted the nine May 12.