A United Airlines flight attendant has been charged after working for 23 years using the stolen identity of a 4-year-old Atlanta boy who died young, according to multiple reports.
Brazilian national Ricardo Cesar Guedes has been accused of stealing the identity of William Ericson Ladd, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston.
Guedes went by Eric Ladd and used the stolen identity to illegally work for United Airlines since 1998, according to the complaint.
Guedes was charged with providing a false statement in a passport application, falsely impersonating a U.S. citizen and entering an airport secure area under false pretenses, according to the complaint.
The third charge was included because Guedes’ job as a flight attendant allowed him to use the expedited “Known Crewmember” TSA lane and bypass most security checks, according to the complaint.
Ladd was born in 1974 and died in a car crash in 1979 in Washington state, a month before his fifth birthday, according to the complaint.
Ladd’s mother, Debra Lynn Hays, confirmed the boy’s birth and death to special agents last July, Yahoo! reported.
Guedes was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1972, according to investigators, but assumed Ladd’s identity in 1998 when he applied for a U.S. passport using Ladd’s name. Guedes, who no longer works for United, renewed his passport six times until December 2020, when the State Department flagged his application for “various fraud indicators.”
Agents traced Guedes’ identity to Brazil with fingerprints he submitted for his Brazilian national identity document in the 1990s, according to the complaint. The technical staff at Customs and Border Protection compared those fingerprints to the set Guedes submitted for his United background check and confirmed they were a match, according to court documents.
Guedes was arrested at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston after he passed through the crewmember checkpoint to the secure area of the airport, according to the criminal complaint.
Guedes is one of an average of 2,000 passport fraud cases recorded every year, according to the Houston Chronicle.
An attorney representing Guedes declined to comment about the case.
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Credit: Channel 2 Action News