Prosecutors: Denver man traded drugs for documents, lived under false identity for 34 years

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A Denver man has been sentenced to federal prison after he traded drugs for identification documents and then lived under the false identity for 34 years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver. 

Prosecutors said James Thompson pled guilty in November to misuse of a social security number. He was sentenced last week to two years and six months in federal prison, followed by three years on supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $930.20 in restitution to the Social Security Administration.

According to court documents, Thompson was a drug dealer in Oklahoma City in the 1980s. He let one of his customers buy drugs in exchange for that customer’s identification documents, according to prosecutors. By 1984, Thompson was living in Colorado under his former customer’s name. 

Prosecutors said Thompson was convicted of several felonies under his false identity, including second-degree murder and several drug felonies. 

In 2015, while on supervised release for a federal drug conviction, Thompson applied for social security benefits under his former customer’s name and was approved, according to prosecutors. Shortly thereafter, the former customer himself tried applying for benefits in Oklahoma, but was told someone was already receiving disability benefits in his name in Colorado. The victim then had to spend more than two years proving his true identity, according to prosecutors. 

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