Case of mistaken identity haunts Silt man
Emanuel Guttierrez Gonzalez has had a few dust-ups with the law, but none that put him in state prison for 14 years. That distinction belongs to someone with a partly similar name – Emanuel Gonzalez-Loujun, who was sentenced to the Department of Corrections last year as part of a plea deal connected to an alleged rape outside of Aspen’s Centennial Apartments complex in January 2009.
Their commonalities don’t end there. Guttierrez Gonzalez was born June 18, 1987; Gonzalez-Loujun exactly three months later, on Sept. 18, 1987.
They both were also arrested in Pitkin and Garfield counties in recent years, on unrelated charges.
But there’s one common thread between the two has created a number of hassles for Guttierrez Gonzalez over the past year: They both have identical Social Security numbers.
Guttierrez Gonzalez detected that something had gone awry after he applied for his state income tax refund, due to him earlier this year. Instead, the Colorado Department of Revenue notified him that the near $500 would be applied to the more than $6,000 Gonzalez-Loujun owes in court costs and restitution.
Confused, Guttierrez Gonzalez went to the Rifle Courthouse, where he’s been a defendant in a host of traffic and other cases, to sort out the misunderstanding. That’s when a court clerk told him that he shares the same Social Security number with Gonzalez-Loujun.
“The main problem for me is the fact that my name is being involved with a person who has a rape case and kidnapping on his record,” said Guttierrez Gonzalez, a Silt resident. “I don’t want that.”
It’s a case of mistaken identity that consumed much of Pitkin County Undersheriff Ron Ryan’s time last Thursday and Friday. Both he and Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said they’re hopeful it’s an isolated incident; if not, it could create a clerical nightmare for local law enforcement’s record-management system.
“Whatever we have to do, we’ll do what we can to make it correct,” the sheriff said.
As of Friday, it remained a mystery as to exactly how Gonzalez-Loujun and Guttierrez Gonzalez are the same person, at least in some government computer systems, including those of the Department of Corrections and the Department of Revenue.
Both Ryan and Chief Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin said it could have been a instance of identity theft. But that’s an unlikely scenario, Ryan said.
Instead, Ryan said there’s a good chance that the two identities were mistakenly merged by someone handling the record keeping of criminal defendants. Guttierrez Gonzalez was arrested in Aspen on Aug. 24, 2008, on a municipal trespassing violation. Less than five months later, on Jan. 17, 2009, Gonzalez-Loujun was arrested here on the charges of sexual assault, kidnapping and cocaine distribution – all related to the same incident.
Gonzalez-Loujun also had been in Pitkin County’s criminal-justice system before, for a 2007 felony theft charge and an underage drinking charge in 2002.
Because both of their names and birth dates were similar, it’s possible that whomever was processing their names combined them under one identity, mistakenly assuming that one name was an alias, Ryan theorized.
“It looks like they merged the names without close enough scrutiny to determine if these two are separate individuals,” Ryan said. “One was created as an alias as another.”
But that might not have necessarily happened on the watch of Pitkin County or Aspen officials, Ryan said.
“We still don’t know if the mis-association of the Social Security numbers occurred here or if it occurred somewhere else, and if we also were victims of that mis-association that was created somewhere else,” Ryan said.
Making matters more confusing is that the DOC’s website refers to the Centennial sexual assault defendant as Emanual G. Gonzalez. The “Loujun” part of his named has been dropped, making the two names even related more closely. Whatever the case, Ryan noted, “These two people have been formed into one record in our local records.”
Ryan said that regardless of Guttierrez Gonzalez’s criminal history, his current dilemma is unacceptable.
“I think the public rightfully expects that the government handles their identifications securely,” he said.
Guttierrez Gonzalez said that while he’s been arrested before – he has a burglary case pending in Garfield County District Court – he wants to distance himself from Gonzalez-Loujun. Guttierrez Gonzalez said he has spoken with the Colorado Bureau of Investigations, which suggested he come to Denver and get fingerprinted to obtain to his true identity.
Otherwise, he’ll likely remain linked to Gonzalez-Loujun, who was accused of following a woman home from a bus-stop outside of the Centennial Apartments complex, dragging her to various locations, including a snowbank outside of her apartment, where he raped her. The victim, at an April 2010 trial, testified that he said he would shoot himself with a gun if she didn’t comply with his demands. Defense attorneys claimed Gonzalez-Loujun did not rape the woman, who instead traded sex for cocaine.
The trial resulted in a hung jury that voted 9-3 to acquit Gonzalez-Loujun of kidnapping and sexual assault, while it convicted him of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
In May 2010, he struck a deal with prosecutors that included a guilty plea to a class-five felony charge of criminal attempt to commit sexual assault by overcoming the victim’s will. He also pleaded guilty to violating probation for a deferred felony-theft judgment. The plea deal called for all sentences for the three convictions to run concurrently.
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