A Hawaii couple who has been living under fake names lifted from two dead Texas children has been charged by a federal court with identity theft and conspiring to commit an offence against the US government, court records show.
The unsealed documents from a US district court in Honolulu revealed that Walter Glenn Primrose, a defence contractor, and his wife Gwynn Darle Morrison had allegedly been living under the names of Bobby Edward Fort and Julie Lyn Montague, respectively, since 1987. Both Mr Primrose and Ms Morrison were born in 1955.
The pair were arrested Friday in Kapolei on the island of Oahu. They’re being held without bail on charges of identity theft, conspiracy to commit an offence against the US government and making false statements in the application and use of a passport, drivers’ licences and, for Mr Primrose, Defense Department credentials, a criminal complaint filed 21 July shows.
Mr Primrose, who worked as an avionics technician with the US Coast Guard from 1994 until 2016, was last said to be employed by an unnamed US defense contractor at the US Coast Guard Air station at Barbers Point that conducts search and rescue responses. While there, he reportedly obtained secret security clearance under a fake identity, the Associated Press reported.
“While he held that secret clearance with the U.S. Coast Guard, defendant Primrose was required to report any foreign travel,” prosecutors wrote in the court documents. “Investigation has revealed that defendant Primrose did not report several trips to Canada while he did report other foreign travel.”
Included in the motion to charge the Hawaii-based couple with conspiring against the US government was a set of undated Polaroids that show them dressed in what appears to be uniforms for the KGB, the main security agency for the former Soviet Union.
Though Megan Kau, the attorney representing Ms Morrison, contends that the couple had donned the outfits as a joke, Assistant US Attorney Thomas Muehleck said in court papers that he’d been told by a “close associate” that she had lived in Romania while it was a Soviet bloc country.
“She wants everyone to know she’s not a spy,” Ms Kau said in an interview with the Associated Press, highlighting that the couple, who are both US citizens, have lived in the country for the past three decades as law abiding citizens.
“This has all been blown way out of proportion. It’s government overreaching,” she added.
According to the arresting documents, Ms Morrison and Mr Primrose attended high school and college together in Texas and were later married in Nacodoches, Texas, in 1980.
They assumed the identities of two young children, who would have been more than a decade younger than the pair, in 1987. That same year, the couple lost their home in Nacogdoches to foreclosure.
One year after the pair began going by their new names, they remarried under the newly acquired identities and would go on to have several official documents – including multiple passports – issued under those false names.
When Mr Primrose joined the US Coast Guard in 1994, when he would’ve been 39 years old, his enlistment documents would’ve read that his fake identity of Fort was 27 years old – more than a decade younger than what he would’ve appeared.
Mr Primrose would even go as far in 1999 to apply for a separate passport under his legal name, while still holding one under his assumed name, Bobby Edward Fort.
The affidavit claims that the pair are viewed as a flight risk, noting that the husband had failed to report several trips to Canada despite being required to flag any foreign travel to the US government due to the secret clearance he held for six years.
Mr Primrose, the motion alleges, is a “highly skilled” technician who the arresting authorities say they believe is capable of “communicat[ing] surreptitiously” if released.
In addition to the known aliases used by the pair, the motion also notes that letters seized from the couple’s home show them being greeted with names that are neither their legal ones nor the ones appropriated from the pair of Texas children.
“Federal agents have also seized photographs from the defendants’ residence that depict the defendants apparently some years ago wearing what have been identified as KGB uniforms,” the motion says.
Ms Morrison’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment immediately from The Independent. A lawyer for Mr Primrose could not be contacted.
A spokesperson for the US Coast Guard confirmed that the military branch is working alongside other federal agencies in an investigation into the case, but could not provide any additional details.
“The U.S. Coast Guard and its investigative service are working with the Federal Bureau of Investigations and Department of State to conduct a comprehensive investigation of Walter Glenn Primrose,” a spokesperson for the US Coast Guard said in an email. “The Coast Guard cannot release details about the case in order to uphold the integrity of the investigation.”
A bail hearing was scheduled for Thursday in US District Court for the couple.