Is There No Justice In
By Casey Ross
Monday, January 2, 2006
Robert Eckert thought his days of being a wanted man were over, and
then he saw the blue lights flashing in his rearview mirror again.
It was the day before Christmas, and all the bad memories were suddenly
rushing back: the theft of his identity, the rash of alleged crimes committed in
his name even a newspaper article that said he had tried to run down a
I thought it was taken care of, Eckert, 36, said of alleged crimes pinned
on him by a former neighbor. And then this state trooper tells me I got a
warrant out for OUI. I said, Excuse me?!
Eckert, a part-time Yarmouth public works employee, is the victim of a
bizarre quirk in the court system that has forced him to face a litany of
false charges ranging from cocaine possession to drunken driving to assault
with a dangerous weapon.
Court records show a former neighbor of Eckert named James Jones used
his identity as an alias when he was arrested in 1993 for allegedly leading
police on a wild, high-speed chase in Revere.
While the charges were eventually dropped against Eckert and Jones,
indelible imprint of the 12-year legal saga has continued to haunt
with more charges, new arrest warrants and several forced court
Court records show that every time Eckert has gotten called to answer
new charge linked to Jones, authorities have concluded he was not the
police arrested. Eckert says he usually gets an apology, but then
warrant will appear on his doorstep.
When does it stop?Eckert said on a recent afternoon. The police told
to hire a lawyer, but I'm on a fixed income and I've got two kids. I cant
hire a lawyer.
Revere and state police officials contacted about Eckert's case declined to
comment. Attempts to reach Jones were unsuccessful.
Officials at Chelsea District Court said a warrant issued for Eckert's
arrest was recalled Tuesday after he appeared in court yet again to explain the
mix-up. It was the third time Eckert was called to the court to face criminal
charges records show are linked to Jones.
A court official said the latest warrant had been issued after
authorities finally caught up with Jones in connection with the 1993 chase.
Although the charges were dismissed, Jones drew another arrest warrant for
defaulting on a $400 payment for court costs related to the case. That warrant
eventually found its way to Eckert.
This has been going on 13 years and its still happening, Eckert said.
What's next? Do I have to change my name? They told me it could be done, but
I'd still have to go through the courts.