A Downey woman was sentenced in Norwalk Superior Court this week to five years in state prison for stealing credit card numbers while working at mortgage companies and using the information to buy thousands of dollars' worth of goods.
However, whether Debra LaGrone will spend any time behind bars remains a question. LaGrone, 40, could serve all or part of her sentence at a state drug treatment program in Riverside County that houses first-time felony offenders with substance abuse problems. A hearing is scheduled later this month to determine whether she is eligible.
LaGrone's attorney, Charles E. Mullis, predicted that she will be accepted into the program.
In August, LaGrone pleaded guilty to charges of commercial burglary, making a false financial statement, fraudulent use of an access card, receiving stolen property and possession of methamphetamine. According to court documents, LaGrone obtained credit card numbers and other confidential information while working at mortgage companies in Los Angeles and Orange counties, then bought goods on those accounts.
LaGrone also applied for loans, obtained cash advances in other people's names and ordered merchandise through department stores, jewelry boutiques and clothing catalogues.
In all, authorities documented more than $50,000 in purchases and identified at least 15 victims across Southern California, in addition to numerous small merchants, department stores, credit card companies and banks.