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Ex-Cincinnati police clerk sentenced to probation for sharing information from confidential database

Heather Lacker pleaded guilty to felony
Former Cincinnati Police Department records clerk Heather Lacker during her sentencing hearing in April 2022.
Posted at 8:17 PM, Apr 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-07 20:17:30-04

CINCINNATI — A former Cincinnati Police Department records clerk was sentenced Thursday to one year of probation for getting information from a confidential law enforcement database and sharing it with her daughter.

Heather Lacker, 41, was charged in June 2021 with six felony counts for illegally accessing the Regional Crime Information Center (RCIC) database on five occasions from Sept. 6, 2018, through Feb. 8, 2021.

After a grand jury indicted Lacker, CPD suspended her without pay. Then, the department fired her.

Lacker pleaded guilty last month to one felony count for texting her daughter a photo of one of three men killed in the 2018 shooting at Fifth Third Bank in downtown Cincinnati.

"She shared a photograph that she shouldn't have and she understands that," said Laurence Haas, Lacker's defense attorney, during the sentencing hearing. "I believe she's been punished enough."

Police department records and court documents reveal very little about the allegations against Lacker. Haas said one dismissed charge related to Lacker providing information to a victim's advocate in an attempt to assist a rape investigation.

Lacker cried throughout the hearing and declined to make a statement to the judge. She wore a mask, but removed it when she left the courtroom.

There have been other employees in Hamilton County police departments, including police officers, who have been accused of illegally using and sharing information from law enforcement databases.

In 2017, the Blue Ash Police Department said Officer Chris Zielinski repeatedly illegally used a confidential police database to get information about someone who was not under investigation.

Blue Ash police records obtained and reported by the I-Team in 2017 indicated that the department referred the case to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deter's office and met with one of Deter's prosecutors.

"Officer Zielinski's attorney arranged with the prosecutor's office to retire instead of face criminal charges," Blue Ash Police Lt. Roger Pohlman wrote in an April 2017 letter to an official with RCIC.

Lt. Pohman wrote that Deter's office called the decision "prosecutorial discretion."

Zielinski retired from the department on April 15, 2017.

On Thursday, Deter's office emailed comments to the I-Team about the decision to charge Lacker and not charge Zielinski.

"Every case is different," Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office Public Information Officer Amy Clausing wrote. "Each violation is fact-specific and carries different degrees of severity."