the-curious-case-of-the-fugitive-drug-‘kingpin’-who-outran-his-charges

By the time mourners came to the Lincoln Memorial Funeral service Home in eastern Nebraska, federal representatives were currently staked out outside. Their target was a male named Howard Farley Jr., a fugitive drug trafficking suspect who had actually been on the run for nearly 25 years.

On that cold afternoon in October 2009, the investigators were stymied yet again. Farley never revealed at his late brother’s memorial service.

The guy had actually been a ghost since 1985 when he was implicated of running a transcontinental cocaine network.

” He did an excellent task of disappearing,” stated Duaine Bullock, the former commander of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Narcotics System.

But 11 years after the stopped working funeral home stakeout, a various group of private investigators descended on a house in Weirsdale, Florida. The target that day was a guy believed of passport fraud. He had actually been living under the name Timothy Brown.

The raid was a success. The federal agents detained the guy as he tried to board a plane in his private hangar, prosecutors stated.

It was only after the arrest that authorities found out the male taken into custody remained in fact Howard Farley Jr., the long time fugitive who prosecutors state had been using the identity of a baby who passed away in the 1950 s.

Howard D. Farley, Jr. U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace for the Middle District of Florida

Farley, now 72, is dealing with a number of charges including passport fraud. But he managed to do something extremely uncommon: Regardless of getting caught, he prospered in outrunning his initial charges.

The 1985 drug indictment was dropped in 2014, including a curious wrinkle to an already extraordinary case.

” He was the D.B. Cooper of Nebraska,” stated Jerry Soucie, a long time attorney from Lincoln, relating Farley with the man who disappeared after hijacking an aircraft in the skies over Seattle in1971 “A legend.”

Soucie said he ‘d sometimes bring up Farley’s name to needle prosecutors in the years after the suspect went missing. “One time, they asked my client to come in and said, ‘Where’s he at?'” Soucie recalled. “I said, ‘He’s with Howard Farley.’ It truly pissed them off.”

The arrest has actually activated strong and starkly various reactions from those linked to the guy’s various lives.

Some people who understood him in his home town of Lincoln feel it’s a travesty that he’s not dealing with prison time on the drug charges. This group includes his ex-wife, who kept in mind that the old drug case resulted in the suicides of 2 co-defendants who had agreed to work together versus Farley.

” Many sad outcomes have actually come about due to Howard’s drug sales,” said Christine Schleis, who was briefly married to Farley in the late 1960 s.

But lots of who know him from his second life in Florida hold him in high regard and are still in shock over his alleged past. Some believe the government needs to go easy on a male now in his 70 s who is not charged with any violent offenses and hasn’t run afoul of the law in decades.

” He’s simply this gentle soul,” stated Michelle Bearden, a reporter who befriended Farley in Florida. “When I heard they called him a drug kingpin, it was insane. If you met Tim– I understand him as Tim– you would never in a million years think of him that way at all.”

The case was front-page news in Lincoln’s primary newspaper in1985 “Supposed leader of drug ring still at large” check out the heading in the Lincoln Journal on Oct. 24, 1985.

Farley was swept up in the biggest drug indictment in Nebraska history. Some 74 individuals were charged, and all however one were arrested in what was called Operation Southern Line.

Farley vanished prior to the indictment was unsealed. He was described as the declared “kingpin” of the loosely organized drug network, which prosecutors said used a railway line to disperse drug throughout the U.S.

As investigators looked for Farley, the cases versus his 73 co-defendants moved forward.

Soucie, the former Lincoln attorney, stated it ended up being clear to him and some of the other defense lawyers that a lot of individuals ensnared in the examination were not serious dealers however just individuals who used drugs and occasionally offered drugs to feed their habits.

” They were muscling everybody to snitch on everybody else,” Soucie said. “It just got kind of awful.”

A month after the indictment was unsealed, the first of two disasters struck. One accused who agreed to comply took his own life. A month later on, a 2nd offender who had actually concurred to work with district attorneys died by suicide.

The vast majority of the offenders took plea offers that spared them prison sentences, but Farley’s own sister and brother-in-law were among those who served time on drug charges.

Even after all the other cases were closed out, law enforcement continued looking for Farley.

” The last thing we heard is he was down south some location,” said Bullock, the former Lincoln narcotics system commander who was referred to as “the brain” due to the fact that he never forgot anything.

The brain’s information ended up being right. Farley is now understood to have actually spent much of his time on the run in Florida, living in plain sight.

He had been residing with his partner in a custom-built house in a gated neighborhood called Love’s Landing, where the majority of the homes are geared up with airplane hangars. They purchased the plot for $95,000 in 2018 and completed construction of the $350,000 house in June 2019, records show. The couple likewise own a plane worth $150,000, district attorneys stated in court.

Farley’s better half, Duc Hanh Thi Vu, told investigators she met him on the Caribbean island of St. Martin in the mid-1980 s. The set got married in Broward County, Florida, in 1993.

Vu, who got here in the U.S. with her family at age 11 after getting away political persecution in Vietnam, made a master’s degree in computer technology from Florida Atlantic University and constructed an effective career in computers.

Florida district attorneys have discovered no proof that Farley made any income while on the run, leading them to raise concerns about how the couple managed their globetrotting way of life.

” Her income as an information analyst does not reflect the lifestyle they’ve led over the last 30 years: trips to Australia, deep-sea diving, deep-sea fishing,” district attorney Michael Felicetta said in court last month.

The couple resided in the cities of Naples and Homosassa prior to settling in the Love’s Landing community, records show. They hosted dinner parties for good friends and talked openly about their love of travel and outdoors activities like diving and fishing.

Farley was private about his past however not in such a way that was odd or unusual, friends said.

” There was no reason to be even somewhat suspicious,” Bearden, the reporter, said. “They’re a great couple. He loved her and treated her very well. She’s an actually smart woman. We’re all just in shock.”

Bearden is amongst a half-dozen household friends who revealed support for the guy they called Tim Brown in recommendation letters sent to the court.

” He is a male who truly radiates generosity, both in deed and, particularly, in spirit,” Bearden and her husband wrote.

” I can’t think of a better or more valuable person than Tim,” composed another pal, David Shear. “He is a person of good character and I’m proud to call him a good friend and I will continue to do so.”

Farley had actually been living under the name Timothy Brown since he vanished in the mid-1980 s, according to prosecutors. The identity was taken from a baby who died in 1955 at the age of 3 months.

Farley had used the boy’s name and Social Security number to protect a passport and motorist’s license, prosecutors said. When he applied for a passport renewal in February 2020, passport firm fraud-prevention staffers discovered something suspicious: Timothy Brown’s death record from 1955.

Detectives matched the male’s passport pictures with the image used for his driver’s license. When federal agents raided his house on Dec. 4, they understood what the suspect looked like but had no idea who he truly was.

A fingerprint contrast confirmed that Timothy Brown remained in reality Howard Farley Jr., the long time fugitive.

The news of his arrest activated a series of telephone call and celebratory Facebook posts amongst the former law enforcement authorities associated with Farley’s old drug case.

” Hell, a lot of old narcs, including myself are at least going to sleep with a smile tonight,” one previous Lincoln policeman composed on Facebook. “2 plus years of my life were used up on that person.”

Farley was charged with passport fraud, a criminal offense that carries an optimal sentence of 10 years in prison. A month later, a Florida grand jury returned an indictment charging Farley with a series of extra offenses, including worsened identity theft, Social Security fraud and operating as a pilot without a genuine airman’s certificate.

The federal representatives who browsed his home found a gun and ammo in his nightstand, leading to a service charge of illegal weapon possession.

His spouse was also charged with passport scams in addition to making incorrect declarations to a federal company and employing a pilot without a legitimate airman’s certificate. She and Farley have actually pleaded innocent.

Vu’s lawyers argued in court documents that she did not knowingly harbor a fugitive. They pointed to statements made by among the agents who interviewed her. The representative said in court that she informed him she understood Farley “had actually gotten in difficulty with drugs in Nebraska, and that’s why he changed his name,” but “not always that he was a fugitive or wanted.”

Legal Representatives Andrew Searle and Fritz Scheller, who are representing Vu and Farley, wrote: “Even the government’s own witness at the detention hearing verified that Ms. Vu never ever understood the complete information about the defendant’s alleged past.”

In an interview, Scheller said he understands why the old drug case made a big splash in Nebraska in the 1980 s, but the accusations did not amount to the male called Howard Farley Jr. being a major trafficker. “He wasn’t exactly the Pablo Escobar of Omaha,” Scheller stated.

Florida district attorneys stated in court that Farley’s drug indictment from Nebraska was dismissed in 2014 just since the lead district attorney on the case was retiring and “they required to make a decision about the proof– the age of the proof.”

Farley is now dealing with a maximum of 30 years in prison. In arguing for him to get bail, Farley’s lawyers explained him as a senior man who experiences “a host of significant medical conditions” consisting of 2 current cardiovascular disease, kidney failure and spinal surgical treatment.

But U.S. District Judge John Antoon II was unmoved. Antoon last month denied a defense movement to enable Farley to leave prison and await trial on home detention.

In his choice, the judge said the man had already proven he had the rare capability to disappear and elude authorities for decades.

” Farley did not just leave and stay covert away but rather had the foresight, resources and decision to begin a brand-new life and live in the open while evading capture for years,” Antoon composed. “Absolutely nothing in the records shows that Farley is incapable of doing so once again.”

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