Captured fugitive stole identity of dead Sonoma County child

A Windsor man who lived on the lam for nearly a decade with the assumed name he took from a child who died in a River Road car crash 52 years ago has been sentenced to state prison.

Richard Monroe, 57, began living as Ricky Waller in 2004 after he was convicted of defrauding two former girlfriends and, facing additional charges for bilking others, skipped town with a new identity.

"He always said, 'Tomorrow I'm going to go turn myself in,'" said Monroe's attorney, Richard Scott.

He never did.

Monroe lived in Canada and Texas for about five years, surviving on credit cards and some consulting work in telemarketing, before returning to Sonoma County.

At the time of his arrest, he was living within a mile of the family business, Shook and Waller Construction, run by the real Waller's family.

"We were most surprised that that activity had gone on so close to where we live and work without someone that we knew crossing paths with him," said Eddie Waller of Santa Rosa, who was 7 years old when his little brother Ricky died in the crash.

The deceit did not catch up with Monroe until January, when two agents with the U.S. State Department diplomatic security bureau investigating his passport application showed up at the Windsor home he shared with a longtime girlfriend. Monroe admitted to using the child's identity, and the agents contacted Windsor police, court records show.

Monroe admitted he was not Ricky Waller, ending a sham that his attorney said left him fraught with anxiety about the lies.

Last week, Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite sentenced Monroe to 15 years and 4 months in prison on 21 criminal counts, including financial fraud, prescription fraud, burglary and perjury for lying about his identity on the passport application. Monroe will serve his time, which will end up being five years in custody and about three years on probation, at the Sonoma County Jail.

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