Outstanding Warrants Come Back To Haunt Massachusetts Resident

William Shakespeare once told us that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. His point was “What’s in a name?” A gentleman from Chicopee, Massachusetts, apparently agrees with him. In Chicopee, he is known as Felix Maldonado. In Waterbury, Connecticut, however, he was known as Alfredo “Eddie” Gonzalez. But to us, as well as the criminal justice system, he is now known as the Defendant.

The Defendant, 43, is currently being held without bail in Connecticut, courtesy of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where his various identities were finally meshed. He was returned to Connecticut in August to face 18 outstanding arrest warrants dating back to 1995 and 1996.

He had been alluding authorities for years by moving around and using a variety of aliases and birth dates, police said. After all, what good is a new identity without a new birthdate to go along with it?

The Defendant had a real talent in the fine art of escape. At one time, police said, he escaped from the rear of a state police cruiser on Interstate 84 after being stopped for a New Jersey drug charge. In Connecticut, he was known for running a major “chop shop” for stolen automobiles in the 1990s.

The last known Chicopee address for the Defendant was on Plante Circle, although it is not known how long he lived there…how long he may have lived in Chicopee…or where else he may have lived. While he was bouncing around from locale to locale, Connecticut State Police Sgt. Robert Kenney, the former supervisor of the region’s auto theft task force, is said to have been diligently investigating the case

“Information obtained as a result of Sgt. Kenney and his team helped us locate the accused. Certainly, he was able to elude capture and certainly, we made all law enforcement agencies know we had active arrest warrants for him and we were looking forward to when he surfaced and he did exactly just that,” said Connecticut State Police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance.

Vance explained that the Defendant’s elusiveness stemmed, as in other cases, from the use of aliases and other false information. “Certainly, this was great police work and he faces several felony violations which could be punishable by significant incarceration. These are serious felony charges,” said Vance.

Some of the charges are larceny, operating a chop shop, abandoning a vehicle and changing a vehicle identification number. Authorities also noted that he was adept at sharing his wealth of “catch me if you can” talents and hiding the identity of various cars.

Chicopee District Court officials said the Defendant has been in the courts for motor vehicle and related offenses, assault in a dwelling while armed with a firearm and witness intimidation this year.

He has served time in the Hampden County Correctional Institution in Ludlow and is on probation in Massachusetts through June. Unfortunately, defaulting and hiding from the Commonwealth is generally a violation of probation. Doing it across state lines can also trigger federal charges.

Stay tuned, I guess, for more states, names and birthdates as word of this catch me kid circulates across the country.

Sam’s take:

They say you can’t escape your own past; that is true in the criminal justice system. Many people believe if they put some effort into it, they can hide from pending criminal charges and the authorities will forget about them. It does not work that way.

If you do not show up for a court date, the court does not take a “Well, if he doesn’t care; I don’t care” approach. The court orders a default warrant. It is a warrant for your arrest because you defaulted…in other words, you did not show up. In civil cases, a default means you have lost your case. That is generally not how it works in the criminal justice system. Except in some cases involving trials, it means that the case is on hold and they are looking for you. When you are found, you will be brought back to face the charges, only now you will probably be awaiting your trial behind bars because you have shown yourself to be a flight risk. Not only that, but most likely whatever bail you or a loved one had posted will have been forfeited because you did not show up.

Over my many years in the trenches, I have heard many excuses for not showing up in court. They vary in complexity:

“I lost the piece of paper”

“I forgot”

“The court told me I did not have to come back”

“My lawyer told me I did not have to come back”

“The court officer told me I did not have to come back”

“I was busy”

“I was on my way, but I was late because I had to drop my daughter off at school. Then I had a panic attack. Afraid I might have a heart attack, I checked into a hospital. When I was released from the hospital, I was going to come to the court, but wanted to get a sandwich first. After eating it, I felt nauseous, so I went home to lay down. I must have had food poisoning because I slept for three days. By the time I woke up…I forgot about the case.”

Ok, I admit that last one is a combination of a few excuses I have heard. And I know that sometimes something unexpected comes up. But, as far as the court is concerned, there is nothing, short of emergency hospitalization, that is more important than your showing up in court. In the case of such hospitalization, you had best show up in court at the first possible moment with some kind of proof as soon as you get out of the hospital.

If you are currently hiding from a default warrant…stop. Each day that goes by worsens your situation. Returning to court on your own is often treated differently, and more favorably, than being brought in against your will. Be sure, however, that being caught is inevitable. It may be because you were stopped for speeding, renewing your driver’s license, applying for a new job, going to pick up a check, or one of a myriad of other typical daily experiences.

The thing to do is to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible and make arrangements to make your return to court with as little a risk as possible. Each day you wait, the risks rise.

The bottom line? You can run, but you cannot hide…for too long.

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