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Facebook identity theft: Probation deal for woman who trashed ex?

A woman who faced identity theft charges for allegedly creating a fake Facebook page to trash her ex-boyfriend -- a police officer whose false status updates described him as “scum with a gun” with a penchant for drugs, booze and prostitutes -- could have charges dropped after changing her legal tactic.

Dana Thornton, 41, of Belleville, N.J., agreed Monday to enter a pretrial intervention program that will require her to visit a probation officer and undergo psychological counseling for a year, the Star-Ledger reported. If she successfully completes the yearlong program, which also requires community service, Thornton would have the charges dropped.

It was a sudden turnaround for Thornton in the unusual case, which lawyers said would have marked one of the first times that identity theft -- normally a charge arising from the stealing of another person’s Social Security number, name and other information to gain access to their funds -- was used in reference to the creation of a fake social media ID. Last November, Judge David Ironson rejected defense motions to drop the charges after ruling that New Jersey’s state ID theft laws do apply to electronic media.

The online target in the case was Thornton’s former boyfriend, Michael Lasalandra, a police detective in Parsipanny, N.J. Thornton had long maintained that she did nothing wrong and refused her previous lawyer’s advice to take the pretrial intervention program option and avoid trial; that lawyer quit the case in December, and the new lawyer apparently helped Thornton change her mind.

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According to prosecutors, Thornton and Lasalandra dated for three months in the summer of 2007. Two years after their breakup, police were notified of a Facebook page set up in Lasalandra’s name, without his permission. Thornton was indicted in August 2010.

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tina.susman@latimes.com


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