A UJA-Federation of New York employee was sentenced in Manhattan Supreme Court to six to 18 years in prison for stealing and selling personal information of donors, the New York Post reported yesterday. Tracey Nelson, 25, who had worked as a clerk for the organization for three years, was part of a $2 million identity theft operation that targeted banks and a car dealership, in addition to the Federation.
For two and a half years, Nelson photographed donor checks, and sold the names, address, and credit card account information of approximately 200 Federation donors to others who used them to order duplicate cards or open and plunder dummy accounts. She was fired in summer 2011 after the theft was detected.
Among the donors whose personal info was stolen were former AIG chief executive Maurice “Hank” Greenberg and billionaire investor Ira Rennert. The finances of the individuals whose identities were stolen were not impacted, as banks and credit card companies covered the losses.
Nelson reportedly pled guilty to grand larceny, with its hefty sentence, so that she could take advantage of college classes offered in state prison that would not have been available to her had she awaited trial at Rikers Island. According to Nelson’s lawyer, his client had been intending to use the $20,000 she netted from the identity theft scam to attend community college.
Somewhat shockingly, Nelson applied for and received unemployment insurance checks while in prison. Manhattan prosecutors stopped the payments as soon as they discovered she was getting them.
District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. is confident that Nelson’s sentence will send a strong message. “If there was any doubt that identity theft is a serious crime, today’s sentence removes it,” he told the New York Daily News. “When individuals abuse a position of trust for personal gain, they cause financial damage to banks and deprive victims of their good credit, their time, and their peace of mind.”