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A former Baltimore police officer, fired in 2010 after officials said he looked up an undercover officer's information for a suspected drug dealer being monitored by federal agents, has been federally indicted on charges of unlawfully accessing a protected computer.

The Sun reported in November 2010 the officer, Keith Nowlin, was taken into custody early and released after a tag number he ran for a friend turned out to be that of an undercover police officer.

On Thursday, Nowlin was charged through a criminal information with a single count of unlawfully accessing a protecting computer. The filing does not go into detail about the charge, but his attorney Warren Brown said he plans to plead guilty.
"He ran somebody's license plate for a friend, and that's illegal," Brown said, describing it as innocent. "He had the misfortune of doing it for a friend who was under federal investigation."

The then 37-year-old officer had been hired a year earlier and was still in his probationary period, during which the police commissioner had the authority to fire him without a hearing.

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Records show Nowlin came to the department with a long legal history. In the court system's online database, Nowlin appears more times as a defendant — in numerous civil and domestic violence cases — than he does as an arresting officer, though the most recent cases date to 2005.

"Given his involvement with a federal investigation, the police commissioner decided that type of behavior is unworthy of being a Baltimore police officer and immediately terminated him," said spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in November 2010.

Brown said agents monitored Nowlin and never saw any other misconduct. He called it "a whole lot to do about nothing."

Nowlin was assigned to the Northeastern District. Before being hired by the Police Department, he appears to have owned a car business. Brown said Nowlin also worked as a bail bondsman, a job court records indicate he has resumed.

jfenton@baltsun.com

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