RICHMOND — A police officer has been arrested on a federal warrant claiming that he knowingly used misleading domain names on the Internet, including those of his boss, Chief Elwood M. Johnson Jr., to lead unsuspecting users to pornographic websites
Patrolman Steven Gravier, 41, of 3 Highland Trail, a seven-year veteran of the department, was suspended without pay following his arrest Thursday by members of the Rhode Island State Police Computer Crimes Unit and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Johnson requested the investigation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Johnson said the complaint was filed after the department received an internal anonymous tip regarding the misuse of domain names on the Internet.
Johnson, in a Friday afternoon statement, said Gravier’s actions were “isolated and immediately addressed through proactive measures.” He said Gravier’s suspension is covered under the Rhode Island Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights.
The chief said the patrolman’s actions “are no way indicative of the men and women of the Richmond Police Department.” He refused any further comment on the case, indicating he did not want the department to impede the investigation.
According to Michael J. Connelly, a U.S. postal inspector, law enforcement officials collecting information during the months-long investigation talked to Johnson, who navigated to sites with his name and recorded what people would see if they were to click on those addresses. The user would be rerouted to adult male pornography, Connelly said. Investigators noted that the sites were active for months.
Gravier was processed at the Lincoln Woods Barracks and arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Lincoln Almond in U.S. District Court in Providence. Gravier was released on $10,000 unsecured bond.
The penalty for using a misleading domain name on the Internet is two years or a monetary fine, or both.