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Identity theft suspect, former Yorker, tripped up by Ancestry.com
A Texas man on the run for more than two decades after escaping from a prison halfway house stayed under the radar by stealing and assuming a dead baby's identity, according to federal court documents.
Jon Vincent left the Lone Star State after fraudulently assuming the identity of Nathan Laskoski and over the next 21 years lived in several places — including the York area, documents state. He was most recently living in Lansdale, Montgomery County, and is now in federal detention, court records state.
Now 44, Vincent's scheme unraveled when an aunt of the real Nathan Laskoski added the dead boy's name to the family's lineage at Ancestry.com and discovered someone with the same name had already been entered on the genealogy website, linked to several marriages and homes in multiple states, according to documents.
The real Nathan Laskoski died in December 1972 in Texas, according to documents. He was less than 3 months old.
The aunt alerted Nathan's mother, who then discovered that someone had obtained a Social Security number in her son's name.
Federal public defender Felicia Sarner said Vincent never intended to cause the Laskoski family pain.
“Mr. Vincent was a very young man when this matter first arose, and he deeply regrets the poor judgment he exercised back then and the distress this must have cause the decedent’s family,” she said. “His conduct has not resulted in any financial loss, and throughout all the intervening years, he has not been in any trouble with the law and has lived a quiet, hardworking life.”
Strange call: Nathan's mother told investigators with the Social Security Administration that she received a "strange" telephone call in 1996 in which the caller asked questions about Nathan, including whether she'd obtained a Social Security number for the child, according to court documents.
The mother answered some of the questions, then started asking some of her own, at which point the caller hung up, documents state.
Meanwhile, Vincent — who was born two months before Nathan — was living in a Texas halfway house in 1996 after serving prison time, officials said. Vincent escaped from that facility on March 1, 1996, documents state.
Vincent went to a cemetery to find the name of someone who died and who had a birth date close to his own, so he could assume that identity, documents allege.
Vincent subsequently obtained a copy of Nathan's birth certificate, federal authorities allege.
New life: Using that certificate, Vincent obtained a Social Security number in Nathan's name about June 1996 and "subsequently began living his life using the victim's information ... to obtain employment, open bank accounts, apply for loans and to obtain government identification, including a Pennsylvania driver's license," documents state.
In 2003, Vincent moved to Pennsylvania, obtained a driver's license in Nathan's name in Allegheny County, then obtained an updated license in York County in August 2006, court records state. He obtained an updated license in Norristown, Montgomery County, in December 2010, records state.
Online court records indicate Vincent was never arrested or cited with a traffic offense in York County, although he was issued seven traffic citations in Montgomery and Bucks counties between 2010 and 2015.
Moved around: In addition to York, Lansdale and the Pittsburgh areas, Vincent also lived in other states.
He moved to Mississippi, then to Tennessee and, in 2003, to Pennsylvania, documents state.
Vincent is scheduled to be arraigned on charges of Social Security fraud and aggravated identity theft in Philadelphia's federal court on May 2.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.