Charges dropped against Smiths Falls man accused in family services data breach

Police dropped charges against a man arrested after personal information of people investigated by the Family and Children's Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville was posted on Facebook earlier this year.

Woman charged with same offences could still face 10-year prison sentence, fines of up to $10,000

Charges against a man who was arrested after the personal information of people being investigated by the Family and Children's Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville was posted on Facebook earlier this year have been dropped, CBC News has confirmed. (The Associated Press)

All charges against a man arrested in August after the personal information of people being investigated by the Family and Children's Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville ended up on Facebook have been dropped. 

According to a class-action lawsuit filed in April against the family services organization, "highly sensitive" personal information was stolen and posted to the Smiths Falls Swapshop Facebook page.

A 50-year-old Smiths Falls, Ont., man had been charged with:

  • trafficking in identity information;
  • unauthorized use of a computer;
  • mischief to data;
  • mischief over $5,000; and,
  • theft under $5,000.

The man had also been charged with illegally publishing identifying information under the Child and Family Services Act of Ontario.

CBC News confirmed Monday that all of those charges were dropped earlier this month.

Information was 'highly sensitive'

The information posted to Facebook came from an electronic report on the organization's new cases between April and November 2015 that had been stored on an online portal for board members, according to the statement of claim.

The defendants "violated industry standards" and "failed to heed warnings about the inadequate security" to protect the computer systems and website where the confidential information was being stored, according to the statement of claim. 

The lawsuit also named the organization's executive director, Raymond Lemay, Ontario Minister of Children and Youth Services Tracy MacCharles, the Crown and a single hacker identified only as John Doe.

Lemay apologized after the breach, and told CBC News that the organization had taken its website offline.

Woman still faces charges

A 28-year-old woman, also from Smiths Falls, was charged in August with the same offences

Her charges have not been dropped, and she is expected to appear in a Perth, Ont., court on Jan. 27 for a pre-trial hearing.

Smiths Falls police have said that the charges could result in up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.