She's Accused of Helping Self to Others' Identities; Legal Aid Worker Stands Accused of Identity Theft to Get Payday Loans

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Byline: PAUL PINKHAM

A receptionist for Jacksonville Area Legal Aid surrendered Tuesday on charges she stole the identities of at least 20 clients and used the information to obtain thousands of dollars' worth of payday loans.

Tashannyo Adena Medley remained free on unsecured bail and was ordered to be in court Monday to answer charges of fraud and identity theft.

Medley, 29, also is charged in an unrelated count with submitting fraudulent student loan applications before she began working for Legal Aid last November.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen O'Malley said Medley stole about $232,000 through both scams. But O'Malley told U.S. Magistrate Jim Klindt that Medley would have gotten about $990,000 if she'd succeeded completely.

Jacksonville Area Legal Aid Director Michael Figgins said he contacted authorities in February after learning Medley's office computer had made frequent visits to online payday loan sites. Authorities estimated she got about $11,000 worth of loans using the Social Security numbers of his office's clients, who by definition are poor.

"It was a very selfish and self-centered thing to do," Figgins said. "Probably, she thought it was a victimless crime."

He said Medley dressed well and had an active social life, unusual on a Legal Aid salary.

Figgins said the damage could have been much worse had Medley's online activity not been flagged. …