RALEIGH: Bill aims to protect prosecutors' personal information - WFLA News Channel 8

Bill aims to protect personal information of public officials

Posted: Updated:
According to an indictment, Wake County prosecutor Colleen Janssen was the intended target of an April 2014 kidnapping. According to an indictment, Wake County prosecutor Colleen Janssen was the intended target of an April 2014 kidnapping.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

House lawmakers are debating a bill that would protect the personal information of prosecutors, judges, magistrates and police from appearing on online tax records.

The bill was proposed in the wake of a bizarre kidnapping involving a Wake Forest man whose daughter prosecuted a high-ranking member of the Bloods street gang.

"We are prosecutors, we love what we do," prosecutor Jeff Cruden said Wednesday. "But sometimes I'm not only worried about myself, but my family as well. They didn't ask to be put in harm's way."

In April, Frank Janssen was taken from his home in Wake Forest and held captive for 5 days until the FBI found him in an Atlanta apartment.

Janssen's kidnapping was purportedly orchestrated by Kelvin Melton, a high-ranking member of the Bloods who is serving a life sentence in Butner. According to an indictment, Janssen's daughter Colleen was the intended target, but the kidnappers found the wrong address online.

Authorities said the kidnapping was related to Colleen Janssen's prosecution of Melton.

If passed, the bill would protect the personal information of prosecutors, judges, magistrates and police from being easily found online by allowing public officials to opt out of having identifying information publicly available. Federal prosecutors will all be added to the bill's coverage.

"If they're going to find you, they still can; but make it a little harder for them to be able to track you down," Cruden said.

Rep. Chris Malone, R-Wake, the bill's chief supporter, said while the legislation was created in response to Janssen's case, it also would help other working and retired law enforcement officials who have asked for such protection.

"Kidnapping and mortal danger are faced by state and federal prosecutors constantly," Robert Gay Guthrie, president of the National Association of Assistant United States Attorney, wrote the committee. "That threat is compounded when personal information about them, such as their home addresses and phone numbers, is made available."

The measure, which now heads to the full House, passed the judiciary committee with the opposition of some House members who questioned how much it would cost local governments to implement. They also wondered if it would set a precedent for other groups not in law enforcement that might also ask to be exempted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

RELATED STORIES

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

Beau Minnick

Beau covers the North Carolina legislature, delivering valuable insights into state politics. More>>

Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.