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Woman convicted in Obama student-loan case
Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 08/26/2010 @ 11:04 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled
One of nine people indicted in federal court for looking up President Obama’s student-loan records, was found guilty of a misdemeanor in U.S. District Court in Iowa.
Sandra Teague, 54, was found guilty of a criminal misdemeanor Wednesday under 26 U.S.C. Section 1030, a broadly worded section of the federal code devoted to computer fraud that carries a maximum penalty of one-year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Her sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 13.
Only one other defendant, Andrew Lage, has pleaded “not guilty” and is awaiting trial.
The other seven defendants have either pleaded guilty or are scheduled to do so.
Only one of the defendants pleading guilty has been sentenced so far, Gary Grenell, who was sentenced to time-already-served, amounting to one day, and 250 hours in unpaid community service to be completed by July 2011.
The nine had been accused of accessing information about Obama’s student-loan records between July 2007 and March 2009, before and after Obama was elected, from the Coralville, Iowa, offices of Vangent Inc.
“The only reason my client was prosecuted by the federal government was that he happened to look up the student loan records of Barack Obama,” attorney David R. Treimer of Davenport, Iowa, told WND in an earlier interview.
Treimer represents John Phommivong, a 29 year-old who is the son of parents who fled Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.
He said the defendants were bored at their jobs and decided to look up the student-loan records of various celebrities, including Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
None of the defendants got into any trouble until they looked up the student-loan records of President Obama. Then the FBI descended upon them.
All nine of the defendants, including Phommivong, were employees of Arlington, Va.-based Vangent Inc., a private industry contractor that assists the Department of Education in researching student-loan cases.
“The only crime here was to access the records without having a legitimate business purpose,” Treimer said. “My client did nothing to disseminate any of the celebrity student loan information he looked at.”
Treimer said he had no idea if the Obama student loan records included any irregularities or any information that would indicate that Obama had applied for student loans as a foreign student.
Treimer did not expect his client would receive a maximum sentence in the case.
“Phommivong has already lost his job,” Treimer said. “I expect his sentence will be probation only, involving no jail time and no fine. He may have made a mistake accessing the records, but he really did not have any criminal intent here.”
Treimer told WND that Phommivong, still unemployed, has now registered for a culinary school.
In an earlier interview with WND, Prosecutor Joel Barrows of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Davenport, Iowa, declined to comment on any substantive aspects of the cases.
Should the defendants actually have retained the records they accessed, the information could blow the lid off questions still surrounding Obama’s past.
As WND has reported, several of Obama’s records from his college years remain off-limits to the public, including his Occidental College records, his Columbia University records, his Columbia thesis, his Harvard Law School records, his Harvard Law Review articles and his scholarly articles from the University of Chicago.
The dearth of information led to a popular e-mail hoax declaring Obama’s Occidental records had been found and that he had received financial aid for foreign-born students.
“We do not know the intentions of our former employees,” Vangent company spokesman Eileen Rivera told WND for a previous story. “However, no evidence of misuse of the data by former employees was found.”
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