A former St. Francis police officer who was fired then charged with illegally accessing recordings of department job interviews wants his case dismissed for lack of probable cause.
A.J. Gennaro, 43, was accused of viewing videos of candidates who interviewed for a promotion in the north metro police department and then sharing the videos with others, including a member of the City Council.
The Anoka County Sheriff's Office looked into whether the alleged actions of investigator Gennaro violated a data privacy law that went into effect last Aug. 1, making unauthorized access of data a misdemeanor.
Gennaro, who now lives in Phoenix appeared Monday in Anoka County District Court. His attorney said Gennaro was a "good cop" doing what he thought was the right thing after coming across information that troubled him.
The St. Francis City Council fired Gennaro Jan. 5. in the wake of the allegations against him. He was later charged with intercepting and disclosing communication obtained by interception — felonies — and two misdemeanor counts of willfully violating government data practice rules.
According to the criminal complaint, Gennaro was one of five candidates interviewing for a sergeant position with the St. Francis department. On Aug. 7, 2014, before the scheduled interviews, Gennaro used his "secure credentials and department-issued computer" to access the video feed from where the interviews were to take place, the complaint said.
On Aug. 11, 2014, Gennaro approached a City Council member and, according to the complaint, said he believed his recording "contained evidence of misconduct by members of the interview panel." Gennaro then played portions of the videos to the council member and the St. Francis mayor at the mayor's home.
A forensic examination showed the footage was saved on Gennaro's work computer, then later deleted, according to the complaint. A search warrant revealed the recording of the interviews played for the council member and mayor.
Peter Wold, Gennaro's attorney, said Monday that Gennaro "didn't hack into any system."
"He didn't hide it. He took it to City Council to show them. He thought it was a good thing to do."
Gennaro's next court date is July 27.
Staff reporter Shannon Prather contributed to this report.