Washington Private Investigators Sentenced for ID Theft

August 17, 2009

A Belfair, Washington couple who ran a private investigation firm have been sentenced to six months in prison and two years supervised release for using illegal methods to dig up dirt on people who were involved in court cases or litigation.

Emilio and Brandy Torrella ran BNT Investigations, where workers posed as the people they were investigating to trick the IRS, Social Security and other agencies into releasing sensitive information — from tax returns to medical histories. Prosecutors said they then forwarded that information on to other private eyes, who in turn sold it at a substantial markup to law firms and others.

They were sentenced in Tacoma by U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton.

The Torrellas previously pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud, conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.

The Torrellas were among 10 private eyes around the country indicted in the case. They admitted illegally obtaining information on 1,800 people from 2005 to 2007.

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