A 43-year-old former San Diego police sergeant who stalked his ex-girlfriend over a period of several months was sentenced Thursday to serve a year in the work-furlough program.
Mariusz Czas, who worked for the San Diego Police Department for 18 years and was assigned to the SDPD Traffic Division, pleaded guilty in September to a felony stalking charge. Czas was ordered Thursday by San Diego Superior Court Judge Daniel Link to report to the work furlough program in January and will also be on probation for three years.
Czas used police databases to track down the victim and her new boyfriend, who have since married and moved out of state, according to prosecutors
Court papers stemming from a restraining order the victim obtained against Czas last year state that after their relationship ended, he conducted a traffic stop on her and asked her why she was leaving him.
She also began receiving text messages from unknown numbers demanding money and threatening to post nude photos of her on pornographic websites or send the pictures to her contacts, according to court papers. She stated she believed Czas was behind those texts, though Czas claimed to her that he was also a victim of the same "hacker" and would contact investigators to look into it.
A review of Czas' searches on police databases showed that he conducted records checks to obtain the ex-girlfriend's license plate number and her new boyfriend's address and other personal information, according to court documents.
Czas was relieved of his police duties last year after the woman reported the allegations to police. He worked for the department in a desk assignment that required no contact with the public until his arrest in February of this year, according to an SDPD spokesman.
Deputy District Attorney Amy Colby read a statement in court written by the victim, who attended Czas' sentencing hearing remotely.
"Over the past year, I've lived in crippling fear," said the victim, who wrote she had suffered from daily nightmares over fears of being watched and followed. She said text messages and calls from unknown numbers sent her into moments of panic, as she feared the "hacker," who she now knows was Czas, was reaching out to her.
"You used the power of your badge to assist you in your sick and twisted 'hacking' fantasy," she wrote.
Colby said that once confronted about the stalking, Czas "rushed to delete evidence of his crimes," prompting another detective's efforts over the course of months "to retrace the defendant's digital footprint."
Czas' attorney, Dan Greene, urged Judge Link to take Czas' entire life and career into account and not just solely weigh his client's worst actions against him.
Greene said Czas accepted responsibility early with his guilty plea and was remorseful for his actions.
In a brief statement to the court, Czas told Link, "I am extremely embarrassed by this whole situation and the pain I caused to [the victim]. This will follow me for the rest of my life."
Link said that though he believed Czas served the community well over the course of a "storied career," he had to take into account that "this woman was terrorized," as well as "the suffering that the victim had to endure" and impose some form of custody.
"While I do feel that Mr. Czas is very sorry now, I do think in the moment, he was caught up to the point where he couldn't stop the terrorizing until higher-ups and detectives finally brought him to task," Link said.