Last week, the Supreme Court overturned charges of "aggravated identity theft" against an illegal immigrant in Illinois because he didn’t know he was using another person’s Social Security Number.
Sheriff P.J. Tanner told the Beaufort Gazette that a countywide audit of businesses turned up about 194 employees at 22 businesses that may have used falsified or stolen identities to get jobs. Tanner said he never intended to charge them with anything but misdemeanor forgery unless his investigation revealed further charges are appropriate.
The sheriff's investigation of 11 businesses netted five arrests in the past two months. All the suspects were charged with forgery, which could result in prison time.
He said his cases don’t involve identity theft, thus aren’t affected by the court’s decision.
"I think the Supreme Court's decision was correct," Tanner said. "Most of the Social Security numbers that have been found to be used by those that are foreign-born illegals to obtain work ... are just false. They're not connected to anyone."