May 9, 2006 in Nation/World

‘Earl of Buckingham’ just a Floridian

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review
 

LONDON – Fingerprint records have confirmed that a man who assumed the name of a dead baby and created a bogus identity as an English nobleman is an American who has been missing for more than 20 years, police said Monday.

The man’s ex-wife – who learned of his alias only in recent days – came forward and said she and their two adult children were overwhelmed by the revelations.

Charles Albert Stopford III, a 43-year-old native of Clearwater, Fla., who was arrested in January 2005 and convicted of identity theft, insisted he was born Christopher Edward Buckingham in 1963 and was the Earl of Buckingham, said Detective Sgt. Paul Bratton, of Kent Police in southeast England, the force responsible for his arrest.

Throughout a nine-month prison sentence he continued to maintain he was the nobleman.

Stopford’s relatives in Florida said last week that they recognized the mystery man after seeing a story about him in The Times and his photo on the Internet on Thursday, and U.S. authorities confirmed it by reviewing fingerprints sent to them by police in Britain, Bratton said.

Stopford was arrested in January 2005 as he tried to enter Dover, England, from Calais, France, across the English Channel. Police ran a passport check and saw that the person with his name was supposed to be dead.

He was found guilty of taking the name of a Christopher Buckingham, who died in 1963 at the age of 8 months, and using it to obtain documents to live as a British national.

For the past decade he has been calling himself the Earl of Buckingham, a title that has been extinct for more than 300 years.

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