News and Press Releases

Defendant Stole Identities of Deceased Individuals to Hide from Justice System and Society

November 21, 2008

SCOTT ANDREW SHAIN, 53, of Seattle, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 30 months in prison and three years of supervised release for Social Security Fraud, Misrepresenting a Social Security Number, Unlawful Production of an Identification Document, Aggravated Identity Theft, Mail Fraud and being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm. SHAIN was originally charged as “John Doe” in March of 2008, as authorities worked to unravel his web of false identities. At sentencing U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour said he was going below the guidelines range because of SHAIN’s mental health, and the fact that he did not use other people’s information for personal financial gain.

According to records filed in the case, SHAIN first came to the attention of law enforcement in September 2007, when he contacted the British Columbia Canada Department of Vital Statistics requesting the birth certificate of “Dwayne Spill.” SHAIN claimed to be Spill, and used a Queen Anne Avenue North address in Seattle. The Department of Vital Statistics determined that the real Dwayne Spill had died in 1982. FBI agents attempted to contact the person claiming to be Spill, and finally were able to interview SHAIN (who was then claiming to be “Robert Lowe”) in February 2008. SHAIN claimed a person named “William Gee” may have made the request of B.C. Vital Statistics. Authorities were able to determine that SHAIN had used both the Lowe and Gee identities, appropriating the personal identifying information on two men who had died in 1977. When agents searched SHAIN’s living space and arrested him, they found a .380 Kel-Tec pistol. SHAIN had been convicted of forgery in King County in 1996 and was prohibited from possessing a firearm. Investigators were ultimately able to identify SHAIN, and his parents confirmed the identity after seeing his picture on the FBI website.

In her sentencing recommendation, Special Assistant United States Attorney Johanna Vanderlee noted that SHAIN used the identities of more than twenty people over the course of nearly three decades. Most of the identities were for people who had died. The identities allow SHAIN to avoid arrest on three outstanding warrants: a warrant for menacing with a handgun from Lakewood, Colorado, based on an arrest in 1989; a probation warrant from Arapahoe County, Colorado, based on a 1996 escape charge; and a 1996 warrant from King County, Washington for perjury. In making her recommendation Ms. Vanderlee told the court SHAIN had “an obsession with firearms and an obsessive use of identities of dead people.”

At sentencing SHAIN told the court he apologized to the families of the dead people whose names he used for “ripping open old wounds.” SHAIN said he had “done my share to tear the fabric of civilized society.” SHAIN vowed to “do some good in the future to justify his life on the planet.”

The case was investigated by the FBI, Social Security Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG), and the Postal Inspection Service (USPIS).

The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Johanna Vanderlee. Ms. Vanderlee is an attorney with the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General who is specially designated to prosecute social security fraud cases in federal court.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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