By J. PATRICK COOLICAN
Thomas Berry pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor charge that he violated the state's data privacy laws, his lawyer said.
Berry was charged last year with improperly handling information when he forwarded a confidential Dakota County work e-mail to his home — a message that gave identifying details of two legislators who were cited after a park ranger found them “making out” in a parked car in Eagan.
Berry was one of 33 employees who received via e-mail an Aug. 26 report that detailed the “parks activity.” It included nine incidents and five names and other details such as dates of birth and addresses.
The date of the incident and the initials matched state Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, and Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, who were given tickets on Aug. 25 after being found by a park ranger in a car having physical contact.
Berry printed out the report and also forwarded a copy to his home computer, according to the complaint filed by prosecutor Michael Molenda in Dakota County Court.
The information eventually made its way to local media, which published the story about the legislators, who were married to other people.
Berry will serve a year of probation and pay a $345 fine, said Philip Villaume, his attorney. If Berry does not reoffend in the next year, his crime will be knocked down from a gross misdemeanor to a misdemeanor.
He faced up to 90 days in jail and $1,000 fine in the in the case. Berry resigned from his Dakota County job after being charged.
Villaume said his client is glad "the matter is resolved and is sorry about what happened."