Baltimore - Federal authorities arrested British citizen John Skelton at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on Monday night on charges of identity fraud, false statements, and being an impostor to a U.S. citizen.
U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) officials discovered that Skelton, 41, of Yorkshire, England, allegedly stole the identity of U.S. citizen Kurt Branham, who died in 1994.
DSS teamed with Customs and Border Protection officers to apprehend Skelton after the Brit presented a fraudulently obtained U.S. passport to re-enter the country after a trip to the United Kingdom.
Skelton, who resides in Baltimore, will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland. The specific charges Skelton faces are for violations of 18 USC 1028, 18 USC 1542 and 18 USC 911.
"Stealing another person's identity is a very serious crime, but stealing the identity of a deceased citizen is despicable," said Stephen Dearborn, CBP acting port director for the Port of Baltimore. "CBP and Diplomatic Security Service officials work vigorously to bring impostors to justice and to protect American citizens' identities. We are very pleased to end Mr. Skelton's charade."
DSS detected the potential fraud using investigative techniques employed during Operation "Death Match." A passport had been issued in 2005 in the name of Kurt Branham, who died more than 10 years before, a cross match of records indicated.
More than 150 individuals have been charged with federal passport fraud and related offenses as a result of Death Match investigations.
Todd Brown, special agent in charge of the DSS Washington Field office said, "The U.S. passport is one of the most coveted travel documents in the world, and those who have acquired passports fraudulently could perpetrate further illegal acts. I am pleased that the collaboration between our agents, the Customs and Border Protection professionals, and the U.S. Attorney's office in Maryland has been so successful in this case."
CBP, DSS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials were at BWI when Skelton disembarked his flight from London at 7:45 p.m. Monday. During questioning, Skelton allegedly admitted he was a United Kingdom citizen and that he obtained Branham's identity.
CBP officers paroled Skelton into the United States for prosecution and turned him over to DSS agents. The U.S. Attorney's Office will prosecute Skelton.
CBP issued a detainer on Skelton to be returned to CBP at the adjudication of his charges.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.