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Man, 72, on run from drug charges for 35 years got pilot’s license in Florida

He has pleaded guilty in federal court to passport fraud, aggravated identity theft and operating as a pilot without a license.
A man accused of fleeing a drug conspiracy charge in Nebraska more than three decades ago and living under a false identity has pleaded guilty to federal charges in Florida.
A man accused of fleeing a drug conspiracy charge in Nebraska more than three decades ago and living under a false identity has pleaded guilty to federal charges in Florida. [ Photo illustration by ASHLEY DYE and MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Apr. 21
Updated Apr. 21

OCALA — A man accused of fleeing a drug conspiracy charge in Nebraska more than three decades ago and living under a false identity has pleaded guilty to federal charges in Florida.

Howard D. Farley Jr., 72, pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to passport fraud, aggravated identity theft and operating as a pilot without a license, according to court records. He faces up to 15 years in prison.

Farley was arrested in November at his Weirsdale home, about 50 miles northwest of Orlando.

According to a criminal complaint, Farley applied for a passport last February using the name, birth date and Social Security number of a person who had died as an infant in 1955. He had previously used that identity in 2016 to obtain a pilot’s license, officials said.

In 1985, Farley and 73 others were indicted by a federal grand jury in Nebraska. Prosecutors had alleged that Farley was the “drug kingpin” on a railroad line used to move narcotics throughout the U.S. Records show that Farley was the only defendant not apprehended in the case. Those charges were dismissed in 2014.

Fingerprints confirmed Farley’s identity after his arrest, officials said.