CONCORD, N.H. – The first of three men who pleaded guilty to being involved in a nationwide identity theft and counterfeit check ring apologized for “criminal debauchery” before a judge sentenced him Thursday to 3½ years in prison.

Quentin West of Pittsburgh pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for his role in cashing more than $370,000 in bogus payroll checks at Walmart stores nationwide from late 2009 until August 2011, when he and two others were apprehended at the Tanger Outlet Mall in Tilton. Authorities found in their rental car stolen identities of hundreds of people and equipment used to make false ID cards and to print checks.

West faced nearly eight years in prison, but he received credit for helping federal investigators build cases against Edgar Rose of Pittsburgh and Omar Patterson of Cleveland. Both have pleaded guilty to wire fraud. Rose will be sentenced Feb. 20 and Patterson on March 19.

Details about the extent of West’s cooperation were whispered to U.S. District Judge Joseph DiClerico at the bench. The government’s motion for a reduced sentence based on that cooperation remains sealed.

West expressed regret that he let “someone talk me into this criminal debauchery.”