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Press Release

Former Police Department Employee Sentenced For Computer Intrusion In Connection With Stolen Identity Refund Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Tampa, FL – U.S. District Judge Virginia Hernandez Covington has sentenced Tonia Bright (53, Tampa) to two years in federal prison for obtaining information from a protected computer for a fraudulent purpose.  The Court also ordered her to forfeit $29,057 and to pay restitution totaling $166,026, which are the proceeds traceable to the offenses. 

According to court documents, 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. for the purpose of Girven then used the information to file filing 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 prison. 

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

Updated May 10, 2016

Identity Theft
Public Corruption