Federal officer Jeff Andre was vacationing at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom near Orlando last month when he saw a man who looked familiar.
The man resembled Quashon Burton, 31, who authorities said fled New York City last November after allegedly using fraudulent documents to get coronavirus aid.
A criminal complaint alleges Burton stole the identities of at least four people to obtain nearly $150,000 in government loans aimed at struggling businesses during the pandemic.
The suspect was a well-known lady. As an inspector for the United States Postal Inspection Service, he became involved in the case and signed a warrant for Burton’s arrest.
And, in an incredible stroke of luck, the fugitive being sought in New York also appeared to be vacationing at the same theme park in Florida on the same day.
Andre sprang into action.
Andree alerted Disney World security, who in turn notified the local Orange County Sheriff’s Office. And so began a process that ended up with Burton behind bars, all because of the two men’s overlapping vacations to “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
A 2021 criminal complaint – signed by Andre – detailed the case against Burton.
Burton was indicted last December on federal charges including theft of government funds, conspiracy to commit theft of government funds and aggravated identity theft.
In his complaint, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York accused him of stealing victims’ identities to obtain fraudulent loans and attempting to convert some of the funds into postal receipts.
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“The defendant used fraudulent email accounts, false identification documents, bank accounts and bank cards in the names of other people … in a way that created a complex web of identities that made it difficult to investigate his crimes,” federal court documents said.
In an email to CNN, Burton’s attorneys, Lauren Di Chiara and Harvey Fishbein, declined to comment or provide information about his request.
A warrant was issued for Burton’s arrest in November last year, and police went to his last address in Brooklyn. He was nowhere to be found. They returned to the home twice and spoke with Burton’s mother, who told them her son would not surrender, federal court documents say.
For months, Burton allegedly used false identities, including during a visit to Disney World, making it difficult to track him down, authorities said.
But on October 20, around 3:05 p.m., Andre met him at Animal Kingdom and notified Disney security that there was a runaway in the park. Disney officials then alerted the county sheriff’s office, saying Burton had left the park and was waiting at a nearby bus stop with two families.
A deputy approached him at the bus stop and asked for identification, and Burton questioned why he should provide it, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said in an incident report.
When the deputy tried to handcuff Burton, he stiffened his arms and refused to cooperate, and the deputy took him to the ground and secured him, the incident report said. Burton was charged with resisting an officer without violence.
Even when fingerprints confirmed his identity, he insisted it wasn’t Burton, federal documents said.
Burton has since been taken into federal custody. Federal prosecutors have argued against his release on bail, saying he poses an “extreme flight risk.”