A 61-year-old Covington man, Tyrone Wudtee, was arrested March 23 for allegedly using a false identity for the past 30 years collecting welfare benefits and unemployment benefits using the social security number connected to the name.
According to a release from the United States Attorney’s Office, Wudtee used a name with the initials M.L.S. and he had been living in Western Washington using the name for three decades.
Wudtee remains in custody pending a detention hearing scheduled for March 31.
The man with the real name of M.L.S. lives on the East Coast in New York.
Investigators tracked the first use of the name to a June 1978 arrest in Tacoma. Various jail booking photos from the past two decades show Wudtee using the name and identifying information of M.L.S.
Wudtee made an appearance in U.S. District Court March 24 in Seattle and gave his real name.
The investigation began in January 2010, when the Washington State Department of Licensing was contacted by an individual in New York who said he was the true M.L.S. The man reported to authorities when tried to get a learner’s permit for a drivers license, he needed to bring in his Washington state identity information.
Since he had never even visited Washington state, M.L.S. called the Washington State Department of Licensing to report possible identity theft. Department investigators determined that someone had obtained identity documents in both the M.L.S. name and in another name. Ultimately, the research revealed Wudtee had lived under the M.L.S. name and had collected more than $100,000 in unemployment benefits under that name since 1995.
The alleged victim (the New York M.L.S.) was interviewed and revealed in 1977 he and Wudtee had been in a bar fight in Baltimore, Md. After the fight Wudtee had taken off with M.L.S.’s wallet. M.L.S. indicated in the mid-1980s he had been contacted by the IRS about taxes owed from West Coast employment. Once M.L.S. demonstrated he had not been employed on the West Coast, the matter was dropped.
The case was investigated by Social Security Office of Inspector General, the Washington State Department of Licensing Fraud Unit and the Washington State Employment Security Fraud Unit with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael Scoville.