By Casey Ross
Monday, January 2, 2006
Robert Eckert thought his days of
being a wanted man were over, and
then he saw the blue lights flashing
in his rearview mirror again.
It was the day
before Christmas, and all the bad
memories were suddenly rushing back:
the theft of his identity, the rash
of alleged crimes committed in his
name even a newspaper article that
said he had tried to run down a cop.
I thought it was
taken care of, Eckert, 36, said of
alleged crimes pinned on him by a
former neighbor. And then this state
trooper tells me I got a warrant out
for OUI. I said, Excuse me?!
Eckert, a part-time
Yarmouth public works employee, is
the victim of a bizarre quirk in the
court system that has forced him to
face a litany of false charges ranging
from cocaine possession to drunken
driving to assault with a dangerous
Court records show a former neighbor
of Eckert named James Jones used his
identity as an alias when he was arrested
in 1993 for allegedly leading police
on a wild, high-speed chase in Revere.
While the charges
were eventually dropped against Eckert
and Jones, the indelible imprint of
the 12-year legal saga has continued
to haunt Eckert with more charges,
new arrest warrants and several forced
show that every time Eckert has gotten
called to answer a new charge linked
to Jones, authorities have concluded
he was not the person police arrested.
Eckert says he usually gets an apology,
but then another warrant will appear
on his doorstep.
When does it stop?Eckert
said on a recent afternoon. The police
told me to hire a lawyer, but I'm
on a fixed income and I've got two
kids. I cant hire a lawyer.
Revere and state
police officials contacted about Eckert's
case declined to comment. Attempts
to reach Jones were unsuccessful.
Officials at Chelsea
District Court said a warrant issued
for Eckert's arrest was recalled Tuesday
after he appeared in court yet again
to explain the mix-up. It was the
third time Eckert was called to the
court to face criminal charges records
show are linked to Jones.
A court official said the latest warrant
had been issued after authorities
finally caught up with Jones in connection
with the 1993 chase. Although the
charges were dismissed, Jones drew
another arrest warrant for defaulting
on a $400 payment for court costs
related to the case. That warrant
eventually found its way to Eckert.
This has been going on 13 years and
its still happening, Eckert said.
What's next? Do I have to change my
name? They told me it could be done,
but I'd still have to go through the