By Eric Stevick Herald Writer
EVERETT — The addict’s handwritten letter to his victims was a tidy and remorseful four paragraphs.
He apologized for the “immeasurable suffering my weakness has caused,” referring to his methamphetamine habit.
He wrote of the shame he feels for believing he wasn’t really hurting anyone when he clearly was.
Ryan A. Scott, 42, is a prolific identity thief who has sullied good names and blindsided strangers with debt. He’s left them with the task of cleaning up the mess he made with banks and creditors. One man has been Scott’s victim multiple times over nearly two decades.
On Monday, Scott was sentenced to prison. He also was given a break. He faced a standard sentencing range of 22 to 29 months in prison.
Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wynne agreed to impose an alternative sentence that allows Scott to spend a little more than a year in prison participating in a drug treatment program followed by another year on community custody.
His court-appointed attorney, Kelly Canary, argued that Scott’s criminal history is directly tied to his drug use. He’d never been given the chance for treatment during previous confinements, she said.
Scott’s apology letter singled out Matthew Frederic. He described him as an “easy and frequent target of my addictive behavior.”
Frederic isn’t ready to forgive Ryan Scott and he most certainly won’t forget him.
The Colorado man has been Scott’s victim on and off for 18 years. Along the way, he’s learned the painful truth about identity theft. A stolen identity can be tucked away for years, only to be misused again and again.
Frederic’s misery started in 1996 with a $15,600 credit card debt on an overdrawn Bank of America account. He had no such account and spent months trying to clear his name.
That summer, Ryan Scott was arrested in Riverside County, Calif. He had documents with Frederic’s name on them, including a statement from the fraudulent credit card.
Scott had worked at an auto dealership where Frederic bought a car. He pilfered personal information Frederic had provided to obtain financing, according to court papers.
In 1997, Scott was arrested by Riverside police — this time for possessing meth and carrying a loaded weapon in public. He tried to pin the rap on Frederic, offering up the other man’s name at booking. Scott’s face and curly locks appear above Matthew Frederic’s name and birth date in the booking photo.
In 1998, Scott was sentenced to more than three years in prison.
His swindling ways weren’t over.
In February 2007, Scott, then 37, was arrested at an Everett casino after passing bad checks. Police found him in possession of credit cards, identification and checks belonging to three people. From the backseat of a patrol car, Scott told an Everett police officer that his name was Matthew Frederic.
Scott was up to his old tricks again last year.
An application on Frederic’s iPhone alerted him of a hit to his credit score. It said he had bought $1,200 in electronics equipment hours earlier from a store in Everett. He soon discovered that there had been a series of attempts to open lines of credit in his name.
In February, Scott — still using meth — tried to obtain a cellular phone account, again masquerading as Matthew Frederic. He presented an employee with a Virginia ID card with his face and Frederic’s name on it. From memory, he jotted down Frederic’s Social Security Card number on the application.
Frederic has spent too many hours trying to defend his name and restore his credit to accept Scott’s contrition. The proof will be in his behavior when he gets out of prison.
“If he is truly sorry, he better not ever do this to me again,” Frederic warned from Colorado on the day Scott was sentenced. “And if he does use my name in vain again, he will pray for the day the cops find him first.”
“We have all heard of Dog the Bounty Hunter,” Frederic said, referring to a burly reality television personality who tracks down criminals who jump bail. “Dog is a nice guy. I wouldn’t be.”
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; firstname.lastname@example.org.