Man on run from fraud charges arrested after officer spots him at Disney World
On the run from charges that he scammed his way into nearly $150,000 worth of coronavirus relief loans, Quashon Burton went on vacation last month to Disney World’s Animal Kingdom theme park, where he crossed paths with another most unfortunate tourist for him.
That tourist was a federal agent who had been investigating Burton’s case, before going on vacation and taking time out of his Florida holiday to help catch him, according to authorities handling the bizarre circumstances surrounding the arrest.
The United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) agent in question, Jeff Andre, was on holiday on 20 October at the amusement park in Orlando when he spotted Burton there, federal prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
Burton, 32, had been charged in November of last year with stealing at least four people’s identities to acquire $149,800 in funds from Covid relief loans administered by the federal government. USPIS agents building the case against Burton tried to arrest him at his home in Brooklyn, New York, last December, but he was not there at the time and had ever since eluded investigators, the court filing said.
He then went to the Animal Kingdom theme park on the same day as Andre, who notified Disney World’s security force that Burton was a fugitive wanted by the USPIS. Disney’s security in turn alerted the Orange county sheriff’s office, whose deputies approached Burton after he left the park.
Burton allegedly gave a false name and resisted being detained, but deputies put him under arrest and transferred him into the custody of federal officials, the court records noted.
A judge in Florida initially ordered Burton released on conditions pending the outcome of his case, but prosecutors successfully pushed to overturn that ruling. They argued that Burton had already gone on the run, and that his insistence on using fake identities heightened the risk of that occurring again.
“There is no reason to believe that the defendant will abide by condition that require his return to … New York of his own accord, and his attendance at future proceedings in this case, after he has been at large using false identities over a year,” the prosecutors said.
A federal judge in New York, Lewis Kaplan, reversed the Florida ruling and on Thursday ordered Burton detained without bond until the case against him concludes.
Burton faces charges of plotting to steal government funds; stealing public money, property or records; and aggravated identity theft. If convicted as charged, prosecutors wrote, he would get at least two years in prison.
Attempts to contact an attorney for Burton were not immediately successful.