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Press Release

South Carolina Man Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy To Distribute Marijuana And Identity Theft

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California

SAN FRANCISCO – Peyton Erwin Eidson pleaded guilty in federal court in San Francisco today to aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to distribute marijuana, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch, Special Agent in Charge Matthew Perlman of the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) San Francisco Field Office, and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge John J. Martin.  The plea was accepted by the Honorable Susan Illston, U.S. District Judge.

In pleading guilty, Eidson, 73, of Aiken, S.C., admitted that he had conspired with others to import thousands of pounds of marijuana from Thailand into the United States in the mid-80s, and then to distribute that marijuana once it arrived.  Eidson further admitted that, after he and his co-conspirators were caught, he obtained a passport using another person’s identity and then fled the country.  Eidson was a fugitive for 32 years.  The State Department identified and located Eidson in 2011, and in 2017, he was returned to the United States to face the pending drug and passport fraud charges.

“Criminals who travel far and hide for a long time will not be shielded from prosecution,” said U.S. Attorney Stretch.  “We commend the steadfast work of our federal law enforcement partners whose hard work has brought this criminal to justice.”

“The successful return and prosecution of this longtime fugitive from halfway around the world are a clear demonstration of both the investigative diligence and global reach of the Diplomatic Security Service,” said DSS Special Agent in Charge Perlman.  DEA Special Agent in Charge Martin agreed:  “This case demonstrates that DEA remains willing and able to support the prosecution of those who violate our nation’s drug laws, even when they manage to evade capture for three decades.”

Eidson was indicted by a federal grand jury on January 14, 1985.  He was charged with conspiracy to import marijuana, in violation 21 U.S.C. § 963; conspiracy to distribute marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846; and two counts of distribution and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute it, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841.  Under today’s agreement, Eidson pleaded guilty to the conspiracy to distribute marijuana charge.  A federal grand jury also indicted Eidson on September 15, 2017, in a second case charging him with two counts of passport fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1542; two counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A; and one count of conspiracy to commit passport fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371.  Under today’s plea agreement, Eidson pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft.

Eidson remains in custody pending sentencing.  Judge Illston scheduled his sentencing hearing for April 27, 2018.  The maximum statutory penalty for the drug charge is 15 years in prison, followed by 3 years of parole, and a $125,000 fine.  The penalty for the passport fraud case is two years in prison consecutive to any other sentence, a $250,000 fine, and one year of supervised release.  However, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a focused multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force investigating and prosecuting the most significant drug trafficking organizations throughout the United States by leveraging the combined expertise of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

Updated January 5, 2018