Cynthia Lyerla, 53, who is a ship captain for Majestic Ventures, pleaded guilty to identity theft, after using a stolen birth certificate to obtain mariner licences and other documentation

Cynthia Lyerla, who worked as a cruise ship captain for Majestic Ventures, Majestic Dinner Cruises and Majestic Yacht Charters dinner cruise lines, has been found guilty of identity theft.

The 53-year-old of League City, Texas, pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft and making false statements in a passport application.

She admitted to obtaining the birth certificate of Christina White in 1992 and then using that identity to obtain a second Social Security number.

She was also able to obtain driver’s licences, passports, mariner licences and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) documentation allowing her to enter secure port areas.

Without a mariner licence and TSA documentation, Lyerla would not be allowed to captain the ships for the dinner cruise companies.

The real Christina White died in 1965 on the same day she was born.

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In a media release, the US Department of Justice said Cynthia Lynn Knox was born in 1964, later married Harold Lyerla and took his name.

The marriage ended when Harold Lyerla was murdered in 1988 in Lompoc, California.

Although another individual was convicted for that crime, Lyerla’s fingerprints were taken by the local police in the course of the investigation.

Since that time, Lyerla used the identity of Christina White, providing her date and place of birth, Social Security number and parents’ names in order to apply for and obtain various legal documentation.

Authorities discovered Lyerla’s true identity when her fingerprints were taken in connection with a mariner licence application and compared to those taken in 1988 and 1989 during the investigation into the murder of her husband.

Additionally, a retired California police detective, who investigated that murder, positively identified the defendant as Lyerla.

United States District Judge George C. Hanks accepted Lyerla’s plea and has set sentencing for 7 June 2017.

At that time, Lyerla faces up to 10 years for making false statements in a passport application as well as a mandatory 24 months for the aggravated identity theft which must be served consecutively to any other prison term imposed.

She was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.