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Originally published Thursday, April 21, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Fraud charges for Starbucks employee

A federal grand jury charged a Starbucks human-resources employee with giving her co-workers' personal information to others, who then used...

Seattle Times retail reporter

A federal grand jury charged a Starbucks human-resources employee with giving her co-workers' personal information to others, who then used it to make $1.5 million in illegal bank withdrawals.

My Thi Tran, 29, of Garden Grove, Calif., was one of six California residents indicted April 14 on bank-fraud charges for allegedly taking bank-account and other confidential information of other Starbucks employees and sharing it with five others.

The FBI investigation alleges that the group used the information to create false identification documents and then recruited others to impersonate the legitimate account holders.

The group cashed and deposited counterfeit checks and made withdrawals on roughly 90 bank accounts, according to the indictment.

Tran's attorney, Michael Guisti, declined to comment on the allegations.

Starbucks said in a statement that it has "fully cooperated" with the FBI during its investigation. "Additionally, Starbucks has taken extensive steps to help ensure that [employees'] assets are protected."

Others charged in the indictment were: Lam Thanh Pham, 33, of Westminster, Calif.; Huong Thanh Nguyen, 30, of Santa Ana, Calif.; Thang Van Nguyen, 31, of Garden Grove; Binh Chau, 32, of Garden Grove; and Dung Viet Dinh, 32, of Garden Grove.

A bank-fraud conviction carries up to 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine and up to five years of supervised release.

Tran is schedule to appear Thursday in federal court in Seattle.

Monica Soto Ouchi: 206-515-5632 or msoto@seattletimes.com

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