'He Was the DB Cooper of Nebraska'

Fugitive Howard Farley busted after 35 years on the lam with a fake identity
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2021 5:15 PM CST
'He Was the DB Cooper of Nebraska'
Howard Farley.   (Marion County (Florida) Jail)

It was big news in Nebraska in 1985 when the feds busted a cocaine-distribution network and rounded up 73 of the 74 people charged. The person they didn't catch? Alleged kingpin Howard Farley, writes Rich Shapiro in a feature on the case at NBC News. Farley disappeared into the wind and remained on the lam until late last year, say prosecutors. The 72-year-old was living under the name of Tim Brown in Weirsdale, Florida, with the wife he met in the '80s and married in 1993. Authorities say Farley had stolen the identity of the real Tim Brown—a baby who died in the 1950s—in a ruse that unraveled only last year when he tried to renew his passport. A records check turned up the baby's death, and when authorities nabbed "Brown" at his private airport hangar and ran a fingerprint check, they discovered their long-lost fugitive.

"He was the DB Cooper of Nebraska," Lincoln attorney Jerry Soucie tells Shapiro, referring to the infamous plane hijacker. "A legend." One unusual twist: The drug charges were dropped in 2014, though authorities have piled up enough additional charges—passport fraud, identity theft, illegal gun possession, etc.—that Farley could well spend the rest of his life in prison. His wife also faces charges of passport fraud and making false statements to a federal agency. "I know her well and I don't think she knew anything," a neighbor who declined to give her name tells the Ocala Star-Banner, though prosecutors note the couple's high-end lifestyle doesn't seem to jibe with her income; they found no evidence Farley worked during their marriage. Others expressed shock that the mild-mannered man they knew as Tim Brown was an alleged drug kingpin. "He's just this gentle soul," a friend tells Shapiro. "You would never in a million years think of him that way at all." (Read the full story.)

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