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BOP Imposter Scheme Discovered

For more than a year, the BOP had an imposter in its midst officials discover last October. One man paid another to do his time and the BOP remained clueless until the imposter escaped.

After pleading guilty to a charge of receiving proceeds from a bank robbery, Dexter Mathis was sentenced in federal court to 20 months in prison on Feb. 23, 1999. U.S. District Judge Jack Camp allowed Mathis to remain free on bond until June 7, 1999 when he was supposed to surrender himself to U.S. Marshals in Atlanta.

Apparently. Mathis had a change of heart and decided he didn't want to do his time. So, instead of turning himself in on June 7, Mathis hired an imposter to take his place. Mathis promised Pierre Carlton money while he was in prison and all the crack cocaine Carlton could smoke upon release.

The plan almost worked. Carlton served 15 months behind bars and was a model prisoner according to BOP officials. He, as Mathis, earned a GED and kicked his drug habit while in prison. After serving time in a secure facility Carlton was put on a bus on Sept. 27 and ordered to report to Dismal House a halfway house in Atlanta where federal prisoners customarily serve the last part of their sentences. However, with only 47 days left to serve on Mathis' sentence Carlton fled and police were immediately notified.

A week later, while investigating a bank robbery FBI Special Agent Larry Guerra spotted a car with tags registered to an alias once used by Mathis. Upon further investigation, the agent found the real Dexter Mathis and the placetrading scheme soon unraveled.

Carlton was apprehended sometime in October of 2000. He has since pleaded guilty to his part in the scheme and will probably face probation. Mathis, now serving his original sentence has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy.

Steven Berne, Mathis' lawyer, said that the arrangement with Carlton was legal and that Mathis was only trying to help Carlton get clean.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Plemmer conceded that had Carlton completed Mathis' sentence, the deception probably would not have been detected. It is unclear whether BOP prison officials compared Carlton's fingerprints with Mathis' when Carlton first reported to prison. Mike Binion, a spokesman for the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta said prisoners are photographed and fingerprinted upon arrival, but that prison officials rely on federal marshals to deliver the correct person.

Although Mathis and Carlton are about the same age they don't look much alike. Mathis is 6 feet 3 inches and weighs about 200 pounds, while Carlton is only 5 foot 9. As Carlton's lawyer Paul Kish, put it, "The only thing they have in common is they're both black males." Apparently, that's close enough for the BOP.

Sources: Atlanta JournalConstitution, Seattle Times, Associated Press

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