Federal official Jeff Andre was vacationing at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom near Orlando last month when he spotted a man who looked familiar.
The man looked like 31-year-old Quashon Burton, who authorities say fled to New York last November after allegedly using fraudulent documents to get coronavirus relief aid.
A criminal complaint alleged Burton stole the identities of at least four people to secure nearly $150,000 in government loans for struggling businesses during the pandemic.
André knew the suspect. As an inspector with the United States Postal Inspection Service, he was involved in the case and had signed the warrant for Burton’s arrest.
And, in an incredible stroke of luck, the fugitive he was looking for in New York also appeared to be vacationing the same day at the same Florida theme park.
André took action.
Andre alerted Disney World Security, who in turn notified the local Orange County Sheriff’s Office. And so began a process that ended with Burton behind bars – all because of the two men’s overlapping vacation in “the happiest place on Earth.”
A 2021 criminal complaint – signed by Andre – laid out the details of the case against Burton.
Burton was indicted on federal charges last December, including theft of public funds, conspiracy to steal public funds and aggravated impersonation.
In its complaint, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York accused it of stealing the victims’ identities to receive the fraudulent loans and alleged that it attempted to convert some of the funds into money orders. .
Billions of pandemic frauds require ‘100 years’ of investigative work
– Source: CNN
“The defendant used fraudulent email accounts, false identity documents, bank accounts and bank cards in the names of others…in a manner that created a complex web of identities that rendered his crimes difficult to investigate,” federal court documents said.
In an email to CNN, Burton’s attorneys Lauren Di Chiara and Harvey Fishbein declined to comment or offer information about his plea.
A warrant for Burton’s arrest was issued in November last year and law enforcement officials attended his last known address in Brooklyn. He was nowhere to be found. They returned home twice and spoke to Burton’s mother, who told them her son would not turn up, according to federal court documents.
For months, Burton allegedly used false identities, including while visiting Disney World, which made it difficult to find him, authorities said.
But on October 20 around 3:05 p.m., Andre recognized him at Animal Kingdom and informed Disney security that there was a fugitive in the park. Disney authorities then alerted the county sheriff’s office, telling them that Burton had left the park and was waiting at a nearby bus stop with two family members.
A deputy approached him at the bus stop and asked for identification, and Burton asked why he had to provide it, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said in an incident report.
When the deputy attempted to handcuff Burton, he stiffened his arms and refused to cooperate, and the deputy took him to the ground and secured him, according to the incident report. Burton was charged with resisting an officer without violence.
Even after fingerprints confirmed his identity, he insisted he was not Burton, according to federal documents.
Burton has since been transferred to federal custody. Federal prosecutors have opposed his release on bail, saying he “presents an extreme flight risk.”
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