msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/22/2010 5:35:27 PM ET 2010-07-22T21:35:27

A computer specialist for a state agency has come under suspicion in the distribution of a list of 1,300 purported illegal immigrants, according to local media reports.

The Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News and The Associated Press, citing unnamed government sources, on Thursday identified the worker as Teresa Bassett, who works in the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

Reached by the Deseret News at a home in Cache County on Thursday, Bassett said she did not want to talk. Department of Workforce Services spokesman Dave Lewis declined to comment on the employee's identity and said that department workers were told not to discuss the case with reporters. A message left by msnbc.com with the governor's office was not immediately returned.

Another woman who worked in eligibility services as a temporary employee has been fired.

The immigrant list that was mailed to news media and law enforcement contains Social Security numbers, birth dates, workplaces, addresses and phone numbers. Names of children are included, along with due dates of pregnant women.

Read the anonymous letter sent to authorities (PDF)

A letter attached to the list demands that those on it be deported, although some are in the country legally. The public release of the list created panic among many in the Hispanic community who feared they would be unfairly targeted by immigration officials.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have acknowledged receiving the list but declined to say whether anyone on it is being investigated.

State officials have said most of those identified on the list have children who are legally receiving benefits.

The department administers food stamp programs and other benefits.

Utah officials have said two workers methodically viewed private records to compile the list. The other worker was a temporary employee, who has been fired.

Intentionally releasing a private record in Utah is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The Utah Attorney General's Office began investigating the compilation and release of the list for potential criminal prosecutions on Wednesday.

Office spokesman Paul Murphy told msnbc.com Thursday the investigation is expected to be wrapped up "in a couple of weeks."

"We're starting the investigation fresh and we will let the information lead to where it leads," Murphy said.

This report includes information from The Associated Press.

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