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Family standing by woman accused of stealing DWS clients' identities

Family standing by woman accused of stealing DWS clients' identities



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Amanda Butterfield reportingThe Department of Workforce Services (DWS) employee accused of using her position to steal clients' identities appeared in federal court today. Only Eyewitness News was there and talked to the suspect's mother.

A detention hearing is basically to determine whether Laura Bustamante should remain in jail or can be set free until her trial. Today, the judge ruled she must stay in custody.

Family standing by woman accused of stealing DWS clients' identities

Bustamante's mother was in the audience for that ruling. "I support my daughter and I love her with all my heart. She made a mistake, and that doesn't mean she's a bad person," she said.

Bustamante is accused of stealing identifies from clients of the DWS. Today her grandparents, cousin and mother made the trip to show their support at her detention hearing. "And I'll be behind her all the way," her mother said.

Investigators say Bustamante used clients' personal information to apply for credit cards online. She would then have the new cards mailed to victims' homes and steal the cards from their mailboxes, all to support a meth habit.

Family standing by woman accused of stealing DWS clients' identities

There were over 30 victims of her crime. Their names are being protected by the Secret Service. The agency investigated the case, and we've been told the victims will not have to pay to fix their credit.

Family standing by woman accused of stealing DWS clients' identities

Federal agents say she also gave stolen personal information to her boyfriend, John Johnstun, and two other people: Joshua Smith and Michelle Chapman--both have been arrested.

"I love her more than life. She made a mistake," Bustamante's mother said.

It's a mistake that has Bustamante facing four federal charges.

Bustamante's boyfriend, John Johnstun, faces the same four federal charges and remains in custody as well.

E-mail: abutterfield@ksl.com

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