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MAN GETS 1-YEAR JAIL TERM FOR IDENTITY-THEFT SCAM

A Wright Street man who stole the Social Security numbers of a dozen Sisters Hospital nurses while checking on his newborn child was sentenced Friday to a year in jail, and a former Buffalo police officer was ordered to pay back a bank for the financial scam.

Darthaniel Owens, 20, was taken away in custody and former Buffalo police officer Linda Bess, 49, of Gladys Holmes Boulevard, was ordered to repay more than $3,000 as her share of the approximately $10,000 in bad checks and credit card fraud stemming from the identity theft case.

Erie County Judge Timothy J. Drury spared Bess jail time. Both pleaded guilty to felony counts of scheme to defraud.

After Bess, now a private company bus driver, told the judge she tried to cash a forged check for a friend months ago "out of stupidity," Drury spared her jail time, noting this was her first serious run-in with the law.

Though Owens tried to withdraw his guilty plea, the judge ordered jail time, noting he had stolen a sheet of paper containing the names and Social Security numbers of a group of nurses slated to attend a medical conference last year from a Sisters Hospital nursing station.

In placing Bess on probation for five years, the judge ordered her to make payments of $65 per month until her portion of the bad check scam is repaid to a local bank. The judge didn't order Owens to make any payments in light of his jailing.

Under the state's sentencing laws, Owens will likely be released from custody in about eight months, court officials said.

Drury credited what he called "the usually stellar" work of Candace Vogel, chief of the Erie County District Attorney's White Collar Crime Task Force, with putting together the case against Owens and Bess and several others still awaiting sentencing for the identity-theft scam.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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