A local veteran's organization has paid a $440 court fine imposed on a Utah woman convicted of using private state records to distribute a list of 1,300 purported illegal immigrants, creating panic among Utah's Hispanic community last year.
The American Combat Veterans of War paid the fine for Leah Carson, 32, because it heard she was struggling financially and wanted to help, said the group's state chairman, Ted Van Meeteren, of Ogden.
Carson's actions were wrong, but not enough is being done to curb illegal immigration in Utah, Van Meeteren said.
"I think the attorney general decided to shoot the messenger instead of listen to the message," he told The Deseret News. "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 illegal immigrants willing to work for less.
"It's going on in an ever-increasing amount," he said.
Carson pleaded guilty 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.
Carson and co-worker Teresa Bassett were employed by the Utah Department of Workforce Services. They compiled the list from people who had applied for benefits. In July 2010, the list was anonymously sent to law enforcement and media under the name Concerned Citizens of the United States, along with a note demanding the deportation of those listed.
"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, 59, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of computer crimes, despite maintaining her innocence during a hearing in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City. She entered an Alford guilty plea, which means she admits no guilt but acknowledges the state has sufficient evidence for conviction.
Bassett, who recently changed her name to London Grace Wellington, was sentenced to three years of probation and 250 hours of community service.