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Woman convicted of stealing identities of nearly 500 in state

MONTGOMERY (AP) — A woman who worked for the company that processes Alabama Medicaid claims Tuesday pleaded guilty to charges of stealing the identities of nearly 500 Alabamians, Attorney General Troy King said.

Kwantrice Thornton, 24, was charged with stealing the information from Electronic Data Systems Inc. as part of a Medicaid and tax fraud scheme that included selling 50 of the identities to other people, King said. EDS officials say she had already left the company when the apparent theft was discovered.

Thornton pleaded guilty Tuesday to trafficking in stolen identities, a class B felony that could carry a sentence of two to 20 years in jail and a fine of up to $30,000. She also pleaded guilty to violation of the Alabama Computer Crimes Act, a class C felony that is punishable by one to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Sentencing is set for Oct. 23.

"I cannot overstate how important it is for Alabamians to be constantly on guard against the crime of identity theft," King said in a statement Tuesday.

"This case is about the theft of 498 identities from one company, by one person," he said. "It is a stark reminder that we are all targets. We must take every precaution to never become easy targets."

All of those whose identities were stolen were notified by the state in February, King said. They have been offered free credit-monitoring services and identity theft assistance.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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