Friday Weisblog: 35 years of frustration is over for Tom Lesh

Tom Lesh of Coos Bay, Oregon had his identity stolen in the 1970s. He knew exactly who was responsibly for it immediately.

He knew it was a friend of one of his brothers. Since that time he’s told everyone he could think of. He’s been in touch with the IRS. He’s talked to credit card companies and hospitals. He’s even spoken to the guy’s own mother!

It’s been nothing but three-plus decades of headaches for the 66-year-old Lesh.

The alleged identity thief is Clark Mower, a truck driver. Mower, Lesh and Lesh’s brother all worked together in Los Angeles in the 1970s, and when his brother moved to Oregon, Mower went with him. Lesh reports that on one particular night when the Mower and his brother were drinking, Mower told him he needed an alternate ID because he wanted to avoid a DUI charge in California. The brother jokingly said, “Why don’t you use my brother’s (meaning Lesh’s), never thinking Mower would actually do it.

Soon, Lesh found out someone in Oregon was using his personal information. After that, a friend who went to Oregon said he’d witnessed Mower bragging openly about using Lesh’s identity.

In 1984 (after he, too, moved to Oregon), he tried to buy a car but was denied. Right after that, an 18-wheeler was purchased in his name and it turned into a bankruptcy. The IRS told Lesh he owed $10,000 in back taxes.

Finally, Lesh caught the break he needed. Someone named Tom Lesh had just received treatment in a Seattle hospital, and just as you might suspect it wasn’t the real Tom Lesh (Mower had since moved to Seattle). After finding this out, a Primera Blue Cross representative went into action, eventually turning the case over to Special Agent Matt Lavelle.

Lavelle confirmed the tomfoolery and arrested the 58-year-old Mower near his home.

“It’s like I’ve been released from prison,” said Lesh.

Congratulations to Mr. Lesh, and may Mr. Mower spend the maximum amount of time in prison that the law allows.

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