Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Bizarre Con Man On Loose In Alaska
A convicted con artist with a long history of impersonating Army officers has been up to his old tricks in Alaska, according to Fairbanks police.
Original article posted Aug. 27, 2010
FAIRBANKS - A convicted con artist with a long history of impersonating Army officers has been up to his old tricks in Alaska, according to Fairbanks police.
A Fairbanks magistrate has issued a $100,000 arrest warrant for William James Clark, 37, on one charge third-degree weapons misconduct, or being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Fairbanks police were called to the North Star Council on Aging Monday afternoon after Clark reportedly showed a pistol to the director of the facility, Julie McCumby, and claimed to be a military police officer.
McCumby reportedly told police she believed Clark was mentally ill or an escapee from jail and that seniors were being moved out of the building and away from him, according to charging documents.
When Fairbanks police officer Joshua Lambert contacted him, Clark, a heavyset man with a blond crewcut, was smoking a cigarette while talking on his cell phone.
He had an empty handgun holster on his belt, and a loaded 9mm pistol was found in Clark's car. The gun was placed in the trunk for the safety of the officers present but not confiscated.
At the request of McCumby, Clark was issued a citation for trespassing told not to return. Officers did not take him into custody, and as Thursday night, he had not been apprehended.
While Clark has oustanding warrants in five different states, police were not aware of his history because the statewide Alaska Public Safety Information Network only listed him as a "person of interest" in a Juneau fraud and forgery case from late July and early August.
It was only after they let Clark go that officers discovered Clark's criminal history through the computerized National Crime Information Center. FPD Sgt. Eric Jewkes said that checking the NCIC is not something officers routinely do.
Juneau police spokeswoman Cindy Brown Mills would not release additional information about the department's investigation into Clark because he has not been formally charged.
It's unclear what exactly Clark was doing at the North Star Council on Aging. Because of the ongoing investigation, McCumby would not say if he was an employee or volunteer there, but said that despite Clark's lengthy record of fraud, there was no threat to the records kept there.
"Our systems have not been jeopardized," she said.
Sarana Schell, spokesman for Alaska's Department of Health and Human Services, said that anyone working at a nonprofit organization would have to pass a background check if they are working with clients, but that sometimes defendants sentenced to community service do behind the scenes work such as dishwashing.
"A convicted felon having a gun would be a separate issue," she said.
Monday's incident was just the latest in a long line of bizarre cases involving Clark.
He was sentenced to five years in prison after he showed up to the scene of a 2002 fatal bridge accident, identified himself as an Army captain and spent more than two days ordering around FBI agents and doing media interviews before the ruse was discovered.
A month after being released on probation in 2007, he called a Russian embassy claiming to be part of a U.S. Special Forces squad planning to assassinate Russian Prime Minister Vladimer Putin.
Following that incident, Clark reportedly told investigators that he has no military experience and is mentally ill.
In February 2008, Seattle police pulled over Clark for missing license plates. A military uniform was found in the car and he claimed to be a military police officer but could provide no further documentation.
Clark's most recent stint in jail ended in August 2009, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Earlier this week, a TV station in Davenport, Iowa, reported that Clark is suspected of entering a local computer store in April of this year and passing a bad check to purchase a laptop he claimed to need for a deployment to Afghanistan.
Photos and pictures making the rounds on military message boards also seem place Clark at an Aug. 7 Anchorage gun show, during which he was reportedly looking to purchase ATVs for other, fictitious soldiers.
Clark was reportedly wearing a captain's uniform with badges indicating he had special forces, ranger and airborne qualifications.
Spokespeople for the Alaska State Troopers and Anchorage police department said neither agency have had any recent contact with Clark.
Contact staff writer Chris Freiberg at 459-7545.