Arlington woman spared jail in Facebook thievery

EVERETT — The Facebook computer game ended in a real courtroom.

An Arlington woman was spared jail time after completing more than 240 hours of community service prior to her sentencing on a theft charge Thursday.

A Snohomish County Superior Court judge sentenced Rebecca Riley Terry to 30 days in jail but converted the time to community service.

The Arlington woman, 48, pleaded guilty to making unauthorized credit card charges. She admitted stealing real money from her employer to improve the virtual homestead she was building on the online game FrontierVille featured on Facebook.

The online game, played by millions during the height of its popularity, gives people a chance to be virtual pioneers. They create cyber homesteads, complete with crops and livestock. Participants work at earning coins and horseshoes — currency in the game — to purchase items for their homesteads.

Players also can use real money to rack up more coins and horseshoes, giving them even more frills for their pioneer family and homestead.

Prosecutors allege that the defendant used her employer’s credit card for the online game as well as other applications on Facebook.

Riley Terry worked at a Lynnwood insurance company and was authorized to use the corporate American Express account for business, Lynnwood police detective Scott Dilworth wrote in court papers. The company discovered that between June 2011 and September 2011 a total of $9,949.20 in unauthorized charges to Facebook.

The defendant had no prior criminal record.

Gabriel Rothstein, her defense attorney, said Riley Terry served more than 300 hours at a food bank, which was well beyond the time required at sentencing.

He described her actions as “an aberration I can’t see happening again.”

Riley Terry also has paid more than $7,000 of the roughly $10,000 owed in restitution.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com

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