Woman Funded Shopping Sprees Through ID Thefts

CANTON, Ohio (AP) - A woman has pleaded guilty to funding shopping sprees by stealing identities.

Louella A. Silva, 30, of Nimishillen Township, pleaded guilty Wednesday to 19 charges tied to more than $100,000 in merchandise.

She pleaded guilty to five counts of taking the identity of another, seven counts of forgery, five counts of theft and one count each of grand theft and receiving stolen property. Stark County Common Pleas Judge Sara Lioi set sentencing for Sept. 9.

Silva's husband, Sean Silva, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of complicity to theft and one charge of receiving stolen property. He is awaiting sentencing.

Silva's mother-in-law, Barbara J. Silva, of Canton, is due back in court Monday after pleading guilty last month to a single charge of receiving stolen property.

Louella Silva assumed the identity of five women, using their Social Security numbers and personal information. to get credit cards or open accounts at various stores. She bought furniture, appliances and even a $300 shipment of lobsters during the spree, prosecutors said.

The identity theft victims are in their 70s and 80s, said Patricia Melia, assistant Stark County prosecutor.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)