Ne­vada DMV nabs crim­i­nal with fa­cial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

LAS VE­GAS: A man who fled fed­eral cus­tody more than 25 years ago couldn’t es­cape newage crime fight­ing, thanks to fa­cial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy. The Ne­vada De­part­ment of Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles said it nabbed 64-year-old Robert Fred­er­ick Nel­son in June as he tried to re­new his state iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card. Nel­son has since been turned over to the fed­eral Bu­reau of Pris­ons. He’s ex­pected to serve his re­main­ing sen­tence and ad­di­tional time for flee­ing fed­eral cus­tody in 1992.

Fed­eral author­i­ties aren’t clear on how Nel­son fell through the cracks for so long, said Chris Clif­ford, a spokesman for the US Mar­shals Ser­vice in Min­neapo­lis. “We al­most had to re­build the en­tire case,” he said.

Ne­vada DMV spokesman Kevin Malone said a tech­ni­cian pro­cess­ing Nel­son’s pa­per­work at the North Las Ve­gas sta­tion called agency in­ves­ti­ga­tors af­ter notic­ing some­thing sus­pi­cious about him. Nel­son’s left the DMV un­aware a full-scale probe would fol­low by of­fi­cers in the de­part­ment’s Com­pli­ance En­force­ment Di­vi­sion who in­ves­ti­gate iden­tity theft and re­lated is­sues.

“The fa­cial recog­ni­tion was only part of it. It was good, old-fash­ioned po­lice work,” Malone said. The in­ves­ti­ga­tors dis­cov­ered Nel­son’s ID card photo re­sem­bled an­other man: Craig James Paut­ler, who had a com­mer­cial driver’s li­cense and a state ID card dat­ing back to 1993. Nel­son be­gan us­ing his true iden­tity in 2013 when he got an ID card un­der his real name, which he at­tempted to re­new last month. In Ne­vada, peo­ple ap­ply for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion in per­son and leave with a pa­per de­tail­ing their in­for­ma­tion. The DMV pro­cesses the ap­pli­ca­tion, and if ap­proved will mail the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card to the ap­pli­cant.

In the case in­volv­ing Nel­son, the re­sem­blance be­tween the two iden­ti­ties prompted in­ves­ti­ga­tors to run his crim­i­nal his­tory. They found felony con­vic­tions un­der both names, and that he had eluded fed­eral author­i­ties in Min­nesota for decades. Ne­vada of­fi­cials called to in­form him of a prob­lem with his ap­pli­ca­tion and asked him to re­turn to the DMV of­fice, where he was ar­rested June 20.

Mug Shot

Malone said the DMV has used a fa­cial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy since 2008, af­ter mov­ing to a cen­tral pro­cess­ing sys­tem for all stateis­sued ID cards to tighten se­cu­rity. The tech­nol­ogy is strictly for mug shots and isn’t the higher-tech type that can pick peo­ple out of a group. The fa­cial recog­ni­tion soft­ware shows pos­si­ble match­ing faces, al­low­ing the DMV to fur­ther scru­ti­nize ap­pli­ca­tions. Malone said most cases just link sim­i­lar-look­ing pho­tos but the de­part­ment catches ID fraud two to three times a month.

“We’ve caught a lot of ID theft and ID fraud cases,” said Malone. “This is the first time I’m aware of that we’ve cap­tured an es­caped pris­oner.” The pro­gram pre-dates the state’s com­pli­ance with the fed­eral Real ID Act of 2005, which re­quired all states to en­hance ID stan­dards. The process and reg­u­la­tions for state IDs were more le­nient be­fore 9/11, which Malone said is prob­a­bly how Nel­son got his other iden­ti­fi­ca­tion doc­u­ments. —AP

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