Belleville Woman Charged over Facebook Identity Theft

id_theftDana Thronton, a 41-year old woman from Belleville, is in trouble because of a Facebook Profile that she created after her break up with Parsippany Detective Michael Lasalandra. She created a Facebook account using his name and birth date and even went so far as to upload pictures of him and post comments as if he was the one commenting. Worse, what she had written was highly detrimental to Lasalandra’s image.

She was indicted in Morris County on one count of 4th degree identity theft, which could net her up to one and a half years in jail. Her lawyer, Richard M. Roberts, had tried to file a motion to dismiss the indictment, claiming that the charge is “deficient” because it provided insufficient facts to support the notion that Thornton had committed a crime under the statute. Roberts’ defense hinges on the fact that no New Jersey Court has ever ruled that creating an online profile for somebody without their consent actually constitutes identity theft.

The problem with this is that New Jersey law does not specify the internet as a means for identity theft. However, the prosecutor argues that the law still applies because it generally states that it is a crime to impersonate another person or assume another person’s identity, especially if the purpose of doing so is to gain a benefit, defraud that person, or to injure him.

Thornton’s actions certainly harmed her ex-boyfriend’s reputation and it was obviously done with malicious intent. Thornton’s attorney has so far asked for a few days in order to improve his case. His request was granted and the hearing has now been set to November 2.

The result of the trial is sure to influence how identity theft cases using the internet are handled in New Jersey and possibly elsewhere.

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