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Fake ID makes 'whodunit' tougher question for cops

October 14, 1997

By BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

When Kevin Brown went to work last Thursday, his boss wanted him to explain how he got tangled in a drug bust the night before in Hagerstown.

Brown, in fact, was nowhere near 971 Noland Drive, where the drug raid occurred. But local media reported that Kevin Brown, of Martinsburg, W.Va., had been charged with a variety of drug offenses.

The reason?

The real suspect, Robert Lee McDowell, of Kearneysville, W.Va., allegedly gave incorrect information to police. Authorities confirmed on Monday that McDowell used his cousin's name - Brown - when he was arrested. He also gave a bogus address in Martinsburg, police said.

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"I've had quite a few people ask me if it was me," Brown said Monday.

Brown's mother, Bernice Bartley, also was upset. "My son almost lost his job over this," she said.

Law enforcement officials say it is an increasingly common phenomenon. Suspects seeking to hide their identities frequently give false information. Sometimes they simply make up information, but other times that use actual names and addresses that belong to other people.

Sgt. Charles Summers, director of the Washington County Narcotics Task Force, said people should not jump to conclusion when they read that friends and neighbors were arrested.

Summers said McDowell's identity was confirmed through fingerprints. He said agents suspected McDowell's information might be incorrect because he gave Kearneysville's zip code when he told police he lived in Martinsburg.

Two adults who were charged in connection with the drug bust are now free on bond. Shandu Nalls paid $75,000 on Saturday and Veronica Hurley paid $25,000 on Monday.

McDowell remained at the Washington County Detention Center on $65,000 bond Monday night. Bond was raised for two other suspects who also remained at the detention center. Russell Polland and Jason Polland were held on $75,000 and $65,000 respectively.

Members of the Hagerstown City Police and the drug task force seized four long-arm guns, two handguns, more than $5,000 in cash and about 200 grams of cocaine during the raid.

Summers said drug dealers are fetching about $3,000 per gram of cocaine in the local area. That means the drugs seized last week could potentially have been netted about $60,000 if they were sold in individual amounts on the street, he said.

"That's pretty significant. That's pretty significant for us," he said.

Summers said drug agents investigated drug activity at the address for a number of weeks after receiving information from other cases.

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