Make us your home page

Largo man gets 57 months in data theft case

TAMPA — A former employee of a St. Petersburg check verification company was sentenced to nearly five years in federal prison Thursday for stealing millions of Americans' personal financial information from a database and selling it.

William "Gary" Sullivan, 54, of Largo also was ordered to pay more than $3.97-million in restitution.

Sullivan pleaded guilty in November to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and one count of fraud activity connected with computers. U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday gave Sullivan 57 months for each count but ordered that he serve the sentences concurrently.

Sullivan worked for nine years as a database analyst for Certegy Check Services, which advises retailers whether a customer's check is likely to bounce. From about 2002 until June 2007, Sullivan stole customer information and resold it to others, including telemarketers.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Palermo said investigators never uncovered information to suggest that third parties who bought the data used it to incur credit charges under the victims' identities.

"Well, Mr. Sullivan, you've created quite a stir, and over a long period of time caused a lot of people a lot of trouble," Merryday said. "I'm certainly glad that the offense was not worse and its victims were not more seriously penalized than they were."

Prosecutors said Sullivan made nearly $600,000 by selling the personal records. Sullivan said he did it because he was desperate. His wife was unemployed and he had no money in his 401(k), he said.

"I (in) no way intended to cause anybody any grief or hardship," Sullivan said in court. "Every week it happened, I regretted it … but it didn't stop me from doing it."

Sullivan's actions caused Certegy to notify about 8.4-million Americans — including 460,000 Floridians — that their data had been methodically stolen over a five-year period.

Seven class-action lawsuits resulted, and six remain, which are in various stages of being settled, Palermo said.

The people who sued Certegy over their information being sold have won a judgment for attorneys' fees of about $2.35-million, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors said victims included residents of all 50 states, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and military personnel overseas.

Largo man gets 57 months in data theft case 07/10/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 11, 2008 8:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay is ground-zero for assignment of benefits cases over broken auto glass


    When Rachel Thorpe tried to renew her auto insurance last year for her Toyta RAV4, she was stunned to see her monthly premium had nearly doubled to $600. The Sarasota driver was baffled since her only recent claim was over a broken windshield.

    Auto glass lawsuits filed by a third party (through what's known as assignment of benefits) are skyrocketing in Tampa Bay.
[Times file photo]
  2. Siesta Beach tops Dr. Beach's rankings of best locations in America


    Three beaches in Florida made it on a highly coveted list of the top 10 in America this year, ranked by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, a.k.a. "Dr. Beach."

    This May 18, 2017 photo shows Siesta Beach on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Fla. Siesta Beach is No. 1 on the list of best beaches for the summer of 2017 compiled by Stephen Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, a professor at Florida International University. [Chris O'Meara | Associated Press]
  3. Brooksville's popular Florida Cracker Kitchen aims at statewide expansion


    BROOKSVILLE — Florida Cracker Kitchen's inverted cowboy boot logo — seemingly plastered on every pickup truck in Hernando County — may someday be just as ubiquitous across the state.

    Shrimp and grits is a signature dish at Florida Cracker Kitchen, which plans to open more restaurants in the state.
  4. Alison Barlow named director to spur creative economy, jobs of St. Pete Innovation District

    Economic Development

    After an extensive search, the recently created St. Pete Innovation District now has its first executive director. Alison Barlow on Thursday was named to the position in which she will help recruit and facilitate a designated downtown St. Petersburg area whose assets and members range from USF St. Petersburg, Johns …

    Alison Barlow has been named the first executive director of the recently created St. Pete Innovation District, a designated downtown St. Petersburg area whose assets and members range from USF St. Petersburg, Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital and Poynter Institute to SRI International and the USF College of Marine Science, among many other organizations. Barlow, who most recently served as manager of the Collaborative Labs at St. Petersburg College, starts her new job June 16.[Photo courtesy of LinkedIn]
  5. Trigaux: Amid a record turnout, regional technology group spotlights successes, desire to do more


    ST. PETERSBURG — They came. They saw. They celebrated Tampa Bay's tech momentum.

    A record turnout event by the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, held May 24 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, featured a panel of area tech executives talking about the challenges encountered during their respective mergers and acquisitions. Show, from left to right, are: Gerard Purcell, senior vice president of global IT integration at Tech Data Corp.; John Kuemmel, chief information officer at Triad Retail Media, and Chris Cate, chief operating officer at Valpak. [Robert Trigaux, Times]