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Belfair Pis sentenced in fed court

Belfair Herald of Belfair, Washington

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'Dialing for Dollars' leads to six months for Torrella couple

A Belfair couple was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Tacoma this past Friday to six months in prison and two years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

The U.S. Attorneys Office for Western District of Washington said that Emilio Torrella, 37, and Brandy N. Torrella were key players in a group of 10 private investigators across the country indicted in December 2007 by a federal grand jury in Seattle in connection with a scheme to illegally obtain confidential information on thousands of citizens.

To obtain confidential tax, medical and employment information workers at the Torrellas' company,

BNT Investigations, which was run out of a small office in Belfair's Beynon Center, would pose as another individual to get government agencies including the IRS, the Social Security Administration and various state employment security offices to provide confidential information. The yearlong investigation dubbed "Operation Dialing for Dollars," also revealed that some workers posed as representatives of doctors' offices to get medical or pharmacy records.

At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leigh-ton said the invasion of privacy has a corrosive effect on institutions. "It poisons the culture ... It poisons the culture we have built for 200 years," Judge Leighton said.

In addition to the Torrellas, BNT Investigations' biggest client, Victoria J. Tade, 53, of San Diego, California, was also sentenced to six months in prison and three years supervised release. Between 2005 and 2007, Tade provided 60 percent of BNT Investigations' income, some $345,000. In asking that Tade get a sentence See They on page BH-3s

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Original Publication Date: August 20, 2009

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