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Charges Reduced in L & M Optical West I.D. Theft Case

Charges Reduced in L & M Optical West I.D. Theft Case
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Apr 3, 2009 2:00 PM PDT    Text size: 
VALENCIA, Calif. — The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office has decided to reduce felony identity theft charges to misdemeanors for former employees of L & M Optical West who used fake I.D.s and social security numbers to obtain employment at the company.

The plea deal to lessen the charges applies only to those suspects without a prior criminal record. Twenty-two suspects so far have accepted the plea offer out of 54 total charged.

According to the suspects’ public defender Christina Behle, they will get 30 days of community service, three years probation, must pay restitution to the victim and would be required to use only their real name and information to obtain employment.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department executed a search warrant Feb. 5 at L & M Optical Disc West, one of the adult industry’s busiest replication facilities, and arrested 55 employees that appeared to be using false documents to obtain employment.

Police began their investigation after 19 residents, most of them near the company’s replication facility in Valencia, received overdue tax bills from the IRS on income they didn’t earn.

The ID theft scheme was uncovered after victims received letters from the Social Security Administration stating they earned taxable income at L &M Optical West though the company employed none of the 19 Santa Clarita Valley residents.

The arrests effected more than a quarter of L & M’s approximately 200 employees.

Interestingly, its been speculated that a letter sent by the Mexican Consulate supporting the suspects pressured the L.A. district attorney office to reduce the charges.

L & M accounting manager Rosa Guitierrez, who police allege knew about the large-scale ID theft and tax evasion ring happening right under her nose, pleaded the 5th Amendment more than 20 times during questioning at the preliminary trials.

As a result of these prosecutions bringing the company’s activities in the law enforcement spotlight, L & M Optical West now finds itself under investigation for piracy.

“The investigation is under way and will take several months,” Sgt. Steve Low told The Signal of Santa Clarita Valley.

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