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updated: 2/4/2014 12:16 PM

Former Lincolnshire restaurant employee pleads guilty to identity theft

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  • Alexander Pera

      Alexander Pera

 
 

The former assistant manager of an upscale Lincolnshire restaurant pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing identities in order to fund more than a dozen trips to Walt Disney World.

Alexander N. Pera, 26, of the 3800 block of North Ottawa Avenue in Chicago, accepted a negotiated plea of six months in jail and 30 months of probation after pleading guilty to a single count of aggravated identity theft in front of Lake County Judge George Bridges.

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As part of the plea deal, Pera also is ordered to enroll in the Teen Challenge Illinois Program in Chicago, a faith-based substance abuse facility geared for men 18 and older, officials said.

He also must pay $20,400 in restitution to Walt Disney World and Eddie Merlot's restaurant in Lincolnshire, and he is not allowed to work at any business where collecting personal identifications is part of the job.

Had the identity theft case against Pera gone to trial, he could have been sentenced to up to seven years in prison and two years of probation if found guilty of the charges against him.

Pera was arrested and charged with identity theft July 2 after Lincolnshire police and the Orange County Sheriff's Office in Orlando, Fla., discovered Pera had made multiple reservations and trips to Walt Disney World Resort and aboard the Disney Cruise Line in less than one year while working at Eddie Merlot's.

Police said Pera provided false names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses to book reservations at the resort and on the cruise line.

Pera paid for the trips using fraudulently obtained gift cards and prepaid credit cards, which he acquired by using stolen credit card numbers and cash linked to diners and former employees at the restaurant, authorities said.

Authorities said Pera would mostly target business customers using corporate credit cards while dining at Eddie Merlot's.

More than 50 victims were identified during the investigation, police said, and losses totaled more than $50,000.

Officials said management at Eddie Merlot's cooperated throughout the investigation.

Pera was held in lieu of $500,000 bail in Lake County jail. He is due to be released for treatment.

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