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East Grand Forks man sentenced to 5 years for identity theft

Troy Lafferty

The East Grand Forks man who stole the identities of dozens of local victims will serve five years in prison, a state district court judge decided Wednesday.

Troy Lafferty, 28, apologized for his crimes in a hearing at the Grand Forks County Courthouse attended solely by his and his wife's relatives.

"I sit before you today broken...a coward who hid behind my computer," Lafferty said.

Lafferty pleaded guilty to 19 felony counts of identity theft and one felony count of theft of property in December.

The charges came after Lafferty used people's names and Social Security numbers to obtain credit cards. Several of the victims submitted victim-impact statements to the court as part of a presentence investigation.

Judge Lawrence Jahnke summed up the charges as "taking other people's identities and screwing up their lives."

At least six of the victims had had their computers, which contained personal information, worked on by Techmedics, Lafferty's former business in Grand Forks.

In court, Lafferty talked about his substance addiction problems and treatment, saying he has been sober for 98 days. He also asked for forgiveness from his victims and for a sentence that would allow him to support his wife and infant daughter.

"I'm asking for one last chance," he said.

A plea agreement filed in December would have required Lafferty to serve only a year in the Grand Forks County jail. However, the deal was withdrawn after Lafferty was charged with further crimes of breaking into Altru to steal a printer and tamper-resistant prescription paper and also forging multiple prescriptions for painkillers.

Jahnke agreed to the recommendation from Assistant State's Attorney Tom Falck to sentence Lafferty to five years in prison with 10 years of supervised probation. Lafferty also must repay $5,153 from the one instance in which he used a victim's personal information to make purchases.

Jahnke called it a lenient sentence, which Lafferty's lawyer had requested.

If Lafferty fails to adhere to the conditions of his probation, he will face an additional five years of prison time for theft of $5,153.

Jahnke granted the request that Lafferty not start his sentence until Aug. 21.

"Take this time to get back with your family and thank them for their support," Jahnke said.