April 3, 2010 in City

Killer who fled parole was notary public

Jonathan J. Cooper Associated Press
 

PHOENIX – A convicted killer who skipped parole from Montana and lived under an assumed name in Arizona was commissioned as a notary public, entrusted to verify the identities of people signing legal documents.

The Arizona secretary of state’s office has filed a complaint to revoke that authority. The complaint dated March 30 asks the attorney general’s office to investigate Victor H. Houston for failing to fully and faithfully discharge his duties as a notary public and for lying on his application to become a notary.

Montana Department of Corrections officials said Houston is actually Frank Dryman, who skipped out of Montana 38 years ago while on parole for the 1951 killing of Clarence Pellett.

Dryman arrived Friday afternoon at the Montana state prison in Deer Lodge. He was found last month living in Arizona City, Ariz., running a wedding chapel and working as a notary public.

Arizona law prohibits felons from being notaries unless their civil rights have been restored.

Notaries are commissioned to serve as impartial witnesses who can certify the authenticity of a signature on a document. Their duties include verifying the identity of people signing documents.

The secretary of state’s office would not release Dryman’s notary application because it is exempt from disclosure under the state’s public records law. The form asks applicants under penalty of perjury whether they’ve been convicted of a felony.

Assistant Secretary of State Jim Drake said Arizona law doesn’t give his office authority to run background checks on notary applicants. Drake said his office requires notary applicants to buy a $5,000 bond that requires a notarized signature, a process that effectively asks active notaries to verify the identity of new notary applicants.

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