Crime

Customs officer in Sumas guilty of hacking into co-worker’s phone for risqué photo

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer based in Sumas received a suspended jail sentence for hacking into another federal officer’s personal phone to steal an intimate photo of her.

Steven Lewis Moyer, 47, of Lynden made a comment to a female coworker sometime in late 2015 that he had seen her “boobies” on her iPhone. The coworker, 38, ignored him, figuring he was fishing to see if she had nude photos on her phone, according to charging papers filed in Whatcom County Superior Court.

After finishing her shift a few weeks later on Jan. 8, the woman noticed that a large file on her phone about the size of a picture had been texted to Moyer’s cellphone, but the file itself and the name had been deleted.

She talked with Moyer, and he made a comment about photos on her phone and said he knew how to access it.

She spoke with an internal investigator with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and a month later the case was forwarded to a sheriff’s deputy in Whatcom County.

The female officer explained to the deputy that she brings her phone to work, but U.S. Customs policy restricts workers from having cellphones in parts of the port of entry. So she would leave it in a zippered backpack pocket, in a room where other officers left their bags. Once she found she’d been hacked, she deleted all of her intimate photos, according to charging documents.

The deputy spoke with Moyer at his home March 2. He said a few other customs officers had teased the female officer about having risqué pictures, and in January, he said, he received a photo of a woman’s breasts from her phone. He said he wasn’t sure who sent it.

Later in the day the deputy pressed Moyer further about his comment to the female officer, when he said he could get into her phone even though it was protected by a password. Moyer confessed: One time, he said, he watched the female officer as she punched in her password, and later he took the phone out of her backpack. He found a photo of a woman’s breasts and texted it to himself, according to court papers.

Moyer was charged in May with computer trespass in the first degree, a class C felony. He admitted guilt to a gross misdemeanor, computer trespass in the second degree, on Thursday, Aug. 11, in a plea deal reached by Deputy Prosecutor Christopher Quinn and the defense attorney, Seth Fleetwood.

Superior Court Judge Ira Uhrig sentenced Moyer to one year in jail. That time will be suspended, as suggested by the deal, meaning he won’t serve time behind bars unless he commits another crime or otherwise fails to abide by terms of his probation. The real consequence, Quinn said, will be the likely loss of Moyer’s job.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection put Moyer on unpaid administrative leave while the case was pending, and had been waiting for the criminal case to resolve before deciding if Moyer would be fired, said Jason Givens, a spokesman for the federal agency.

“We don’t tolerate misconduct by our employees,” Givens said.

Moyer has worked with CBP since 2012. He remained on unpaid leave as of this week.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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