PITTSBURGH (AP) — A Pittsburgh man has been sentenced to eight months in federal prison for what a prosecutor called an elaborate scheme to steal Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's identity and spend $658 using a credit card in Allen's name last year.
Brandon Lee Price, 30, should his term in a halfway house downtown, the judge recommended, but federal prison officials are not bound by that suggestion.
Price's public defender, Jay Finkelstein, took issue with prosecutors' claims that the scheme was elaborate, and U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry seemed stumped by how a man with limited education who was AWOL from the Army at the time pulled it off.
"I've been mystified in a certain respect as to how this could've happened by an ordinary, everyday guy," McVerry said. "And I still don't know."
Finkelstein argued that his client's behavior was influenced by head injuries he suffered playing youth football that were aggravated by his Army service.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney James Wilson argued that detailed notebooks in which Price listed Allen's account information and other personal details used in the scheme — including his wife's maiden name — suggest it was more than a random one-off.
"This wasn't a lark of some kind," Wilson told the judge.
The notebooks contained roughly 20 pages including Allen's account numbers, phone numbers and even a script that Price followed when he'd speak to account representatives over the telephone in trying to convince them he was Allen, Wilson said.
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