Local News

Woman pleads guilty to stealing Durham city workers' identities

Posted June 10, 2010 12:33 p.m. EDT
Updated June 10, 2010 5:53 p.m. EDT

— A Durham woman was sentenced Thursday to prison after pleading guilty to using the personal information of city employees to obtain credit cards and purchase items online and by phone.

Alexis Faison, 27, of 1028 Slateworth Drive, pleaded guilty to 39 counts of identity theft, 36 counts of financial transaction card theft, 25 counts of identity theft of three or more persons, 12 counts of obtaining property by false pretense, four counts of accessing computers to defraud, three counts of possessing counterfeit instruments and one count of conspiracy to commit identity theft against three or more persons.

Superior Court Judge Ronald Stephens sentenced her to 27 to 33 months in prison and three years on probation. She was given credit for the six months she has already served in jail.

Stephens also ordered Faison to pay $8,235 in restitution to the city of Durham.

Durham officials said Faison and others got their hands on a 2006 list of Durham city workers last year.

"It included their Social Security numbers, what they do, their employment, their salaries, their date of birth," Assistant Durham County District Attorney Doretta Walker said Thursday.

A search of Faison's home and another Durham residence last June turned up four firearms, including a sawed-off shotgun, numerous documents with stolen identity information and about $4,000 worth of furniture purchased from Rooms to Go.

Walker said officials aren't sure how the thieves obtained the document but said it was possible that someone grabbed it during a renovation of city offices.

Officials notified 8,700 city employees and retirees about the security breach. They also instituted training for employees to ensure employee information remains secure.

"I had taken the day off to spend with (my son) to go get his learner's permit, and instead, I spent the day on the phone trying to chase my credit," Durham employee Laura Adcock said Thursday.

"To this day, I remain vigilant by monitoring credit reports, and I am worried about the harm done to me and my credit history," said Keith Herrmann, the city's deputy finance director.

Faison apologized in court to the employees, and her attorneys noted that she recorded conversations with co-defendant Floyd McSwain to help police build a case against him.

McSwain, 24, of Amber Ridge Lane in Raleigh, still faces 72 counts of identity theft and 18 counts of trafficking in stolen identities in the case. Police said his activities involved more than 200 victims.

Stephens, however, noted that Faison had previous identity theft convictions in Wake County.

"It is the audacity of someone and the irresponsibility of someone to actually take away somebody else's good name," he said.