MIDVALE — Local members of a veterans association paid the $440 fine of Leah Carson, one of two women convicted of creating and distributing a list of 1,300 alleged illegal immigrants that included Social Security numbers and other personal information.
Ted Van Meeteren, the state chair of the American Combat Veterans of War, said the group had heard Carson was struggling financially and wanted to show her compassion.
He said he was unable to contact Carson but spoke with staff at the Midvale Justice Court and found out the fine was still outstanding, at which point he offered to pay. Just before arriving at the justice court, Van Meeteren said he received an anonymous phone call insulting him in Spanish and threatening he would "get his" if he went through with the payment.
While he acknowledges that Carson's actions violated the law, he feels strongly that not enough is being done to curb illegal immigration in the state.
"I think the attorney general decided to shoot the messenger instead of listen to the message," Van Meeteren said. "We can't afford to be Latin America's welfare system any longer."
Van Meeteren said he has spoken with veterans who have lost their jobs in favor of undocumented workers willing to work for lower wages.
"It's going on in an ever-increasing amount," he said.
His group, he said, is also concerned with the economic impact of illegal immigration in terms of public funding for education, health care and welfare services.
"The unfortunate thing is it's the taxpayer that usually ends up paying the tab," Van Meeteren said.
Carson and co-worker Teresa Bassett were employees with the state Department of Workforce Services when they compiled "The list" and delivered it to various law enforcement agencies and media outlets in July 2010 under the name Concerned Citizens of the United States and calling for the deportation of those individuals listed.
Prosecutors say Carson violated policy by providing personal information from files to Bassett, who then compiled the list of names.
Carson pleaded guilty on June 6 to a class C misdemeanor charge of providing false statements regarding unemployment compensation. In addition to the fine, she was sentenced to one year of probation.
"I apologize for my actions," Carson said during her sentencing. "I know they were really stupid, and I made a mistake. I just want to get past this."
Bassett, who has since changed her name to London Grace Wellington, was sentenced with probation as well as 250 hours of community service. Bassett entered an Alford guilty plea to two counts of 3rd-degree felony computer crimes, in which she maintains her innocence but acknowledges the state has sufficient evidence for conviction.
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