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Former Forsyth County court officer violated trust by accessing official reports, authorities say
Barrera, Jose cropped.jpg
Jose Barrera

The investigation into a former Forsyth County court officer accused of accessing or leaking personal information about a local woman seems to be coming to a close as authorities release their findings in the case.

Jose Barrera, a former pre-trial services officer, was terminated from his position with the Forsyth County Court system on Dec. 20, 2018, two days after being placed on administrative leave by Court Administrator Robin S. Rooks, according to documents obtained by the Forsyth County News.

According to a recently filed Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office incident report, on Feb. 1, 2019, deputies took a statement from Michelle Wynne Graves, of Cumming, who alleged that Barrera had accessed her information via his “police terminal” and provided it to five individuals.

On Monday, Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Major Joe Perkins told the Forsyth County News that they have determined that Barrera did not search for or access Graves’s personal information from his work terminal.

But Perkins said that the investigation by the sheriff’s office Major Crimes Unit and IT department determined that Barrera viewed several reports, including a stalking complaint which allegedly involved his girlfriend, and a death report, in which Barrera is allegedly listed as a witness, through his work access. The stalking complaint contained Graves’s personal information, according to Perkins.

“What he did may not rise to a criminal level, but we're outraged as a sheriff's office about it,” Perkins said. “Mr. Barrera had the access to this information because of the job he did at pre-trial services. They need that to do their job ... But when they overstep that boundary, when they start looking into things that have nothing to do with their job, we take that very seriously.”

Perkins said that when the incident was brought to their attention in December 2018, Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman “personally asked for an investigation to be conducted into the matter.”

Following the sheriff’s office investigation of Barrera’s computer, Perkins said that investigators passed off the findings to county and court administration, and on Dec. 20, 2018, Barrera was sent a second letter from Rooks stating that his employment had been terminated based on Rooks’s “loss of confidence” in Barrera’s ability to perform his duties as a pre-trial services officer.

Barrera previously denied to the Forsyth County News leaking any information and stated that he was never given any clear answer for why he was terminated.  

Barrera has not responded to requests for further comment.

Perkins said that he foresees the case being closed in the next few days and does not anticipate any charges being filed against Barrera for this incident.

"It didn't violate the law,” Perkins said, “but it did violate trust with us.”