Good Name Gone:The Story

Posted by on June 23, 2010

This was written in Jan. of 2009.

A lot of new evidence has surfaced since then.

I guess one of the most life-affecting things that has happened to me is my personal issue with “Criminal Identity Theft”. I need to go ahead and post this story because in one of my previous postings I had referred to my “handicap”, and I have had a few of my readers ask,”What exactly is your handicap?” This is not a physical handicap, but rather a handicap on my pursuit of happiness. So, I am posting this for a few reasons…….

1. To explain how “Criminal Identity Theft” can affect a persons life.

2. To hopefully attract interest in this story from influential people who can help me get my life back. (Attorneys, Media, Senators, Congress People, A.C.L.U., anybody who has not given me the chance to voice my situation)

I know that this story may not be as entertaining as others, but I am hoping it is informative. And that through this post, you the reader might take extra caution so as not to let this happen to you.

In Nov. of 1997 I had been hired as a Bar Manager for 3 bars at the Tigua Indian Reservation Casino just outside if El Paso, Tx. .On 12-1-1997, I was informed that they were going to have to “let me go” and withdraw their offer of employment due to some crimes showing up on my Criminal Background Check. They thought it was interesting that my CBC showed me as being currently incarcerated seeing as how I was standing there in front of them. They understood that it must be a mistake, they said that they really liked me and my work ethic, but all they could offer me was that if I got it all cleared up then I could re-apply after the standard 6 months that was part of their company policy. I was somewhat embarrassed, but I thanked them for their time and was on my way, very perplexed.

On 12-2-1997 I visited the El Paso Police Dept. to clear up the situation. After a fingerprint analysis I was informed that someone had used my ID at the time of their arrest. At that time Mr. Chavez(EPPD Records Dept.) showed me the mug shot of the person who had used my ID and asked if I knew the guy. I thought I recognized his face from the neighborhood and at Mr. Chavez’s desk I made a positive ID within 3 phone calls. I expressed my confusion to Mr. Chavez as to how this had happened. This guy looked nothing like me, was 4-6″ taller than me, and out-weighed me by about 40 lbs., and to top it all off I had been arrested in 1991 in El Paso, my hometown, for criminal trespassing. So they had my fingerprints and picture on file. He said he wasn’t sure how that could happen but that it would be all cleared up now. He thanked me for my time and help, then he gave me a signed and stamped letter stating that I had no record on file with the El Paso Police Dept.

Here is something really interesting that I found out much later. Apparently, when this guy got arrested and gave them my name or ID, while being booked he refused to give them my personal info (because he didin’t know it). So the officers went back to my arrest sheet from 1991 (which was also a stupid arrest due to a couple of Hispanic cops wanting to mess with a White Boy,dismissed of course). They then pulled the info (Place of birth, SSN, Address, and other required info) and used that information to properly fill out their paperwork. On his arrest sheet, it lists him as 5’11’ and 155 lbs.. Which was my stats. While he was obviously well over 6′ and 220 lbs.. If that wasn’t a clue, then maybe the different fingerprints, or the different color eyes, different colored hair, or maybe the Mugshot picture, or maybe even the fact that the record they were pulling this info from was in 1991 which meant he would’ve been about 12-13, would’ve been some sort of clue. Those boys in blue sure pay attention to detail.

Embarrassed and then jobless, I decided to go back to Virginia Beach, Va. Where I had been stationed while I was enlisted in the USNAVY. So right after spending Christmas with the family I returned to VA. I made a few pit-stops along the way, working as a bartender in a couple of different cities, but eventually landed back here in Virginia Beach. After 2 months of trying to find a job here I found myself living on the streets. I did not put 2 and 2 together , I just assumed that for some reason or another I just wasn’t nailing my interviews, even though I had myself trained people on how to interview perspective employees. I had no reason to believe that these crimes were still on my record. Luckily I landed a job at a local bar and grill as a bartender and moved into a seedy pay- by-the-week hotel until I was able to get back on my feet. Which only took a couple of months. Thank God I am good with money.

It wasn’t until June of 2002 that I actually found out what was going on. I had been for years bartending, going to school, and searching for better employment to no avail. But in June I got a break, I had scored really high on the Postal Service entrance exam, plus I got 10 bonus points for being a Disabled Veteran and after an interview was eventually hired at the Post Office as a Carrier in Suffolk, Va.

I was ecstatic, to say the least. I put my house up for sale, quit my job, and was ready to move to Suffolk(about 45-50 miles away). On June 27 I was informed that these felonies were on my record and that he needed an explanation. I went there and hand- delivered the paperwork that Mr. Chavez had given me.I was told that the paperwork meant nothing to him, that it was the most absurd story he had ever heard, that he considered me dishonest for not putting these crimes on my application, and that he was withdrawing the offer of employment. I had already accepted a contract on my house, so….homeless again. Luckily I had already been approved for the loan for a new house so my wife and I decided to go ahead and sale our house and buy another, hoping something would come up. With what we made off of the house we were able to keep afloat for a few months. During this time, I had made a few phone calls but had been told that there was no way to get this off of my record, it would always be there. I got really depressed and dropped out of school, seeing as how I was going to school to be a teacher and there was no way I was ever going to get a teaching job with multiple felonies in my record, so what was the point really.

After that I took various bartending , waiting tables, and other under the table types of employment. Nothing satisfying or well paying to say the least, but it eliminated going through more embarrassing background checks. I grew up a preachers kid so the atmosphere of these bars didn’t really agree with my spirit anyway. At one particular bar that I worked at, I found out the owners daughter was an attorney. So I explained my situation to her and asked her for help. She said she couldn’t help but she would look into it. Eventually the owner used this information against me and pretty much had me black-balled from all bartending jobs in the area by calling the owners of other bars and telling them that I legally could not serve alcohol in the state of Va. because of my record. I felt hopeless I worked for a while as a repo-man, but because of my record I couldn’t get a weapons permit, and now with a little one at home it didn’t really seem like a good idea. My wife had been in a car accident and was unable to work for over a year because of her physical therapy appointments. So we were borrowing money from both of our families just to keep a roof over our heads. After we tapped out all of those resources we finally sold our house to avoid foreclosure. With the money we made off of the house and what my wife made off of her settlement we were able to pay back everybody we owed and just about break even.

Then things started to get interesting. I had taken a job delivering pizzas(no background check), and had worked my way up to a management offer, that did require a background check. Of course these charges came up again only this time it showed I was in prison for capitol murder. Apparently Mr. Jason Michael Newton had gotten out of jail and had killed someone, convicted under his own name, but because I was his ALIAS it also showed up on my CBC as well. That’s when I decided that enough was enough and I refused to be a victim anymore!!!!

I decided that I was going to spend every waking moment pushing to get this fixed. I started calling the records dept. in El Paso on a daily basis. Finally,after convincing her that I was not going away, I got a Ms. Daniels to put me in touch with the Senior Latent Fingerprint Examiner Mr. Bruce Orndorff.When I first told him my story he basically called me a liar until I sent him a copy of the documentation that I had received from Officer Chavez. He said that it was the wrong paperwork and that it had never been filed or recorded. He then had me send my fingerprints via the Norfolk Police Dept. Norfolk, Va. Then he sent me a letter stating that those crimes were not mine. I thought it was over but not even close. Apparently in the Career world that piece of paperwork is just a red flag that the perspective employee has baggage. Also, I was once told that their insurance company would not let them hire me. I also found that in most cases there were other applicants that had no red flags or drama so the job went to the second best qualified. The only way to get past this was to get these charges completely off of my record. So I started a new mission.

First I got interviewed by the local news (WAVY10 on your side).They aired my story and did an investigative report(8-27-2006). I must say they made the EPPD look really stupid. But they ended the story by saying that the Attorney Generals office in Austin, Tx. Had looked into it and had said they would repair my record immediately. I was so excited, but when I (not an influential reporter) called to get everything fixed, they told me their hands were tied. Apparently to get an expongement necessitated a pardon from the governor, and in my situation I could not get a pardon because I had never committed a crime. Great! Gave up again, lost another house, same old same old. That’s when my sister got me in touch with BRIAN FALCO.

Brian Falco was a case worker at Identity Theft Solutions, based in California. He was the only caseworker that specialized in Criminal Identity Theft,pretty much in the whole USA. When he heard my case he said it was the perfect example of negligent Police Work and a records dept. that had no idea what they were doing so we had to go around them to get anywhere. Rejuvenated and with an ally, I started calling everyone I could think of, DPS, NCIC, the FBI(who by the way told me that the whole gov’t in the City of El Paso was under investigation for various corrupt acts) OOOPS did I say that? Eventually my contacts and referrals ended up full circle back to a Ms. Daniels in the record dept. of El Paso. When I called her she said that she did remember me and that nothing had changed and there was nothing she could do, and to STOP CALLING HER! Of course I didn’t stop and at one time she told me that she did sympathize but that I needed to take control of my life and drop it. To which I said, “When ya’ll relinquish control of my life I will take it right back.” I believe that got me a dial tone. Then Brian Falco called her and got a little farther. He finally got a contact by the name of Alfred Pineda who had just transferred there and was willing to help.

Al Pineda got me to send fingerprints again, and got an A.D.A. in El Paso by the name of Lisa Borden to take my case.(Of course with a lot of follow up from Brian and I).The first thing she did was get rid of the warrants, yes warrants for my arrest, in Texas. By the way all of my family lives in Tx. Where I couldn’t visit for fear of being arrested and held without bail on the account of being a flight risk. To make a really long story even shorter, eventually on Jan.30 2008( yes 10 years later) A judge in El Paso finally signed for the expongement of my record. The funny thing about all of that is that I was promised a copy of the expongement papers within 30 days. So after about 60 days Brian called Ms. Borden to find out where this paperwork is and when I would receive it. To which she replied we have no record of Mr. Shelby as far as we are concerned he never existed. So where did that leave me?

Well, apparently, it left me with an expongement (which just means that I was a Criminal that had gotten a pardon for Good Behaviour). The bad thing is that although my record had been legally exponged, it really did not mean anything. You see, there are thousands of little fly-by-night background check companies out there, and they work off of out-dated data-bases. I have even seen a CBC of mine come back with all of these crimes listed: 1.Evading Police. 2. Armed Robbery 3. Possesion of Stolen Vehicle 4. Possesion of Narcotics. 5.Capital Murder, and #6.Participation in Organized Criminal Activity. These are not only the convictions he got under my name, but also convictions under his own name that have been attatched to my Criminal Record because I am his Alias. I am told that I could sue these background check companies, but they have so many disclaimers of how they are not responsible for what they report it is virtually impossible. I have found out that most of these CBC companies are owned by attorneys, who really know how to cover their tails.

So anyways, here’s where I stand today. After getting assigned another attorney with the Attorney General’s office in Austin,TX., we have been trying for months to get a copy of my expongement order that I can use to prove that these crimes are not mine (to CBC companies as well as perspective employers). Of coarse El Paso will not cooperate. After jumping through all of their hoops for the last few months, I finally finished the process of “correctly” requesting a copy of the order. I finally got a letter from the El Paso County Court Records Dept. stating that they have located the record and that I am welcome to “come pick it up” (yeah, right, I live on the East Coast). There are 2 conditions: I must give them 48 hrs. notice and I have to pick it up within 30 days of the day that the letter was written or the order would be destroyed. No problem. except that the letter was written on Dec.4th, but actually mailed on Dec. 17th, and I received it on Dec.22. Which means that the record will be “destroyed on Jan.3 according to the letter(that is today by the way),but their offices have been closed for the Holidays since Dec.23. How suspicious does that sound? My guess is that they don’t even have the paperwork, what would you think?

Here’s the kicker: Although I have every right to sue the crap out of El Paso County or the EPPD for all of their incompetence in this matter. I can not get an attorney to take the case because 1. I have to have an attorney licensed in the State ofTexas. 2. Even if I do, the County will claim “Sovereign Immunity” from such a lawsuit on the ground that none of my Civil Liberties have been violated.( I guess the right to vote, the right to bear arms, and the right to the pursuit of happiness are no longer considered “Civil Liberties”.) And the only way to get past this is to get permission from the Governor of Texas to Civally Sue, and he has already stated through a liaison, that he does not wish to get involved.

To make matters even worse, the contacts in El Paso act like I should be Kissing their Royal Hineys due to the fact that they have finally fixed my situation legally. While here I am left with no legal documentation, and a crappy resume due to the lower-level jobs I have had to take due to these issues. So, if anybody has any ideas, any influential contacts, or any suggestions at all on what I should do next, please comment in the space provided below. But most importantly help me spread the word, tell everyone, forward this post to everybody you have contact with. Maybe eventually this post might save somebody years of trouble, and this story might just end up in the right hands. All I can say in words of advice, is that if you are innexplainably having problems finding employment or obtaining credit, do yourself a favor and get a Criminal Background Check done on yourself. If you are having a similar problem please feel free to contact me, I’ve been through the whole process. Believe me, I know what doesn’t work!

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Last modified on June 30, 2010

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