• 63°

Florida man, a convicted rapist and armed robber, assumed another’s identity for over 40 years, pleads guilty

Tampa, Florida – Douglas Edward Bennett (77, Clearwater) has pleaded guilty to passport fraud, aggravated identity theft, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He faces a maximum penalty of 22 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to the plea agreement, in 1975 a Connecticut jury convicted Bennett of several violent felony and sex offenses, including robbery, kidnapping, sexual contact, rape, and two counts of deviate sexual intercourse, pursuant to which he was sentenced to 9 to 18 years in state prison. After his conviction, Bennett was permitted to remain out of custody pending appeal.  But after his conviction was affirmed, Bennett never surrendered to begin serving his sentence, and instead assumed the identity of Gordon Ewen, under which he lived for more than 40 years. According to Massachusetts death records, the real Gordon Ewen died in 1945.

Around July 2016, Bennett submitted a passport application that used Gordon Ewen’s name, date of birth, and Social Security number and failed to disclose Bennett’s true identity.

On November 4, 2020, Bennett was arrested on the federal charges and on a warrant from the State of Connecticut. A fingerprint comparison confirmed that he was the same person convicted in Connecticut in 1975. That same day, federal agents executed a search warrant at Bennett’s house and discovered handwritten notes detailing the first time Bennett used Ewen’s identity and details on how he originally obtained Ewen’s identification documents. Additionally, inside Bennett’s home, investigators discovered and seized five firearms and nearly five thousand rounds of ammunition. As a convicted felon, Bennett is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition.

While in jail, family members visited Bennett. During a video visitation, Bennett stated to a family member, “I would have explained to him [the Federal Judge] the entirety of things, said ‘yes I started out as Douglas Bennett, but Douglas Bennett ceased to exist in 1977…and from that time forward, I’ve spent forty-three years being Gordon Ewen.’”

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, and the Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General, with substantial support from the Department of State’s National Passport Center, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Connecticut U.S. Marshals Task Force. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Erin Claire Favorit.