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Identity thief headed to prison

Schaeffler gets 16-month sentence

Posted: December 30, 2008 12:36 p.m.
Updated: December 30, 2008 12:50 p.m.
 

A San Fernando Court judge sentenced identity thief William Schaeffler to 16 months in state prison after Schaeffler pleaded no contest to commercial burglary Tuesday.

Schaeffler used his ex-girlfriend's identity to go on a shopping spree at Best Buy and Macy's in Santa Clarita in July 2008. The victim is a Santa Clarita woman, who dated Schaeffler for three years and won a civil judgment against him in 2005 for $300,000.

The Signal is withholding the victim's identity to protect her from future identity crimes.

The victim claims Schaeffler bilked her by repeatedly using personal information to open credit card accounts.

Schaeffler pleaded no contest in a court room filled with spectators Tuesday, including the victim's fiancee and father.

"It's over and done, but I think he got off light," said Jim Shepard, the victim's father. "We used to hang thieves."

The plea comes after more than three months of delays and continuations in Schaeffler's identity-theft trial. Schaeffler balked at numerous plea deals that lengthened the trial.

Tuesday was Schaeffler's last chance to avoid a trial, said James Bozajian, Los Angeles County deputy district attorney.

Paul Cooke is the victim's fiancee. The Schaeffler trial stalled the couple's nuptials. "I'm glad it's come to a conclusion. In a roundabout way, even though he pled no contest, he admitted his guilt," Cooke said.
The no-contest plea is not a guilty plea, but holds the same weight in sentencing.

Schaeffler received 186 days of credit for time served in Los Angeles County Jail.

Ten months remain on his sentence, but he could be released in five months on good behavior, Bozajian said.

"I think this is a good sentence considering the nature of the crime and his priors," he said.
Cooke isn't so sure.

"This is a real disappointment. (Schaeffler) manipulated the court to get out of serving a longer sentence in state prison," he said.

Schaeffler waived his right to appear at a restitution hearing Jan. 30. The hearing gives the victim and representatives from Macy's and Best Buy a chance to seek restitution, Bozajian said.

Schaeffler begins serving his time in state prison immediately, Bozajian said.

 

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