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Convicted rapist who skipped out on prison sentence pleads guilty to identity theft charge

Douglas Bennett had been hiding out in Florida for more than 4 decades until the new charge put him on law enforcement's radar.
Credit: Pinellas County Sheriffs Office

TAMPA, Fla. — A convicted rapist who hid in Florida for more than 40 years after skipping out on his Connecticut prison sentence has pleaded guilty to assuming a stolen identity. 

Court records show 77-year-old Douglas Bennett pleaded guilty Thursday in Tampa federal court to passport fraud and aggravated identity theft. He'd been living in Clearwater under a false name since 1977.

According to the Department of Justice, back in 2016, Bennet submitted a passport application using the name, birthday, and Social Security number of a person who died in 1945. Prosecutors say his failure to disclose his true identity led to further investigation.

The complaint says emergency contact information in the application led investigators to discover Bennett’s true identity, which they confirmed with fingerprints. It took another 4 years for him to be arrested.

RELATED: DOJ: Convicted rapist caught in Florida after assuming false identity for more than 40 years

According to a news release, Bennet was convicted by a Connecticut jury in 1975 for robbery, kidnapping, sexual contact, rape, and deviate sexual intercourse. A judge sentenced him to 9-18 years in state prison, but he never showed. Two years later, officials say he began his 43-year run of living under a different name.

"A fingerprint comparison confirmed that Bennett was the same person convicted in Connecticut in 1975. At the time of his arrest, he was in possession of a Florida driver license bearing the false identifying information, but containing Bennett’s photograph," the DOJ wrote.

Bennet faces a maximum of 12 years in federal prison. It's not clear when he'll be sentenced.

RELATED: 'Couldn't live with the guilt': Man turns himself in for 2011 homicide in Manatee County


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