RICHMOND – A Richmond police officer was arrested Thursday for purchasing two Internet domain names in the name of the chief and using them to link to porn sites.
Federal and state authorities arrested Steven Gravier, 41, a seven-year veteran of the Richmond Police Department for the federal crime of using misleading domain names on the Internet.
Gravier, of 3 Highland Trail, Richmond, was suspended without pay and benefits, the Richmond Police Department announced Friday.
The investigation into Gravier’s alleged actions began in December 2012 when Richmond Police Chief Elwood M. Johnson Jr. received an anonymous tip claiming that Gravier had purchased two Internet domain names, www.elwoodjohnson.com  and www.elwoodjohnsonjr.com  and that those websites were hosting “hardcore” male pornography since September 2012.
In December, Johnson conducted an internal investigation of his own and found that the sites linked to pornography.
According to the affidavit of U.S. Postal Inspector Michael J. Connelly, Johnson documented what a user would see navigating to the above websites. He then provided law enforcement with said documentation.
According to Major Todd Catlow of the Rhode Island State Police, the state police became involved in the case at Chief Johnson’s request in January 2013.
Federal authorities including the U.S. Attorney and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service also became involved in the case at Johnson’s request.
Through their investigation, authorities traced back the registrant information for both www.elwoodjohnson.com  and www.elwoodjohnsonjr.com , which are owned by GoDaddy.com LLC, to Steven Gravier.
Gravier reportedly purchased the domains in September 2012, using an address of 130 Seamans St., Providence and his personal cell phone number.
Gravier reported to the Richmond Police Department that he was maintaining the Seamans Street address for “personal reasons” in December 2012, according to Connelly’s affidavit.
On April 22, 2013, Gravier reportedly informed Johnson that he was “maintaining 130 Seamans St., Providence as his primary residence for the time being.”
In his affidavit, Connelly concludes that based on the information from GoDaddy.com and evidence from Johnson related to the case, there is “probable cause to believe that Gravier purchased the domain names … and that Gravier knowingly used a misleading domain name on the Internet with the intent to deceive a person into viewing material constituting obscenity.”
In a press releases issued Friday, Richmond Police declined further comment, “so as not to compromise the pending federal enforcement proceedings.”
The press release also stated, “Gravier’s actions are in no way indicative of the other men and women of the Richmond Police Department.”
Major Catlow of the state police said that he was not aware of any prior criminal record of Gravier’s.
When asked if Gravier was ever disciplined while on the Richmond Police force, Catlow said the state police do not have information of that nature.
When asked whether Gravier had a vendetta against Johnson Catlow responded, “Basically the investigation continues and we’re not going to get into the nuts and bolts of the investigation besides what’s in the affidavit.”
Gravier was arraigned Friday before U.S. Magistrate Lincoln Almond in U.S. District Court in Providence. Gravier was released on $10,000 unsecured bond.
Authorities said the punishment for a person using misleading domain names on the Internet in violation of Title 18 of U.S. Code, is imprisonment for not more than two years, or a monetary fine, or both.