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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

Friday, February 5, 2016

Former Police Department Employee Pleads Guilty To Computer Intrusion

Tampa, FL – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Tonia Bright (53, Tampa) pleaded guilty today to two counts of obtaining information from a protected computer for a fraudulent purpose.  Each count carries a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.  Her sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to the plea agreement, Bright was a civilian employee of the Tampa Police Department and worked as a community service officer.  As part of her authorized duties, Bright took reports from citizens related to incidents not requiring the response of a sworn police officer.  In this capacity, she had access to local, state, and federal law enforcement databases, including the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computerized index that contains the personally identifiable information (PII) of millions of individuals. Bright’s use of these databases was restricted to the performance of her authorized duties.

Between 2009 and 2014, Bright accessed NCIC and other password-protected law enforcement databases to obtain PII, and then provided it to her friend, Rita Monique Girven, on at least ten occasions. Girven used the information to file fraudulent federal income tax returns and claim refunds to which she was not entitled. When Girven received the fraudulently obtained refunds, she shared some of the proceeds with Bright.  Girven previously pleaded guilty in a separate case. On November 20, 2015, she was sentenced to 12 years in federal.

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the Tampa Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mandy Riedel and Megan Kistler.

Updated February 8, 2016