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Deputies catch 26-year fugitive


A man on the run for 26 years is now behind bars in New Hanover County. The Sheriff's Office arrested Charles Lee Sparks yesterday.

The Social Security Administration says he applied for benefits using the identity of a Virginia man who died in 1983. They say Sparks got a Georgia driver license in the name of William Bolyn Garrett a month after Garrett died, then got a North Carolina license in 2008.

Fingerprint records turned up Sparks's real identity. Investigators say the 69-year-old has been a fugitive since escaping one year into a 20-year sentence for drug trafficking.

Sparks is in the New Hanover County jail without bond.

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Bill Garrett

He was not trying to steal from tax payers, how can you steal when your paying in yourself. As far as I know, if SSA wanted to take his money each year and not report that it was a from a dead person- shame on them, not him. He was not trying to hurt anybody. He did not kill anybody. He is a nice old man who did something 26 years ago that he probably shouldnt. He has lived 26 years of his life without incident. He had done something right in his life to live a free man for that long. He worked, he honestly earned a living. Anyone who knows him will tell you what a nice man he is. I think he should be put on probation and let out immediately. Obviously probation wouldn't be an issue since he's lived on the right path for the last 26 YEARS.

Sure...that sounds good.

Sure...that sounds good. Note to all convicts, if you escape prison and do not get in trouble again, you should be allowed to live free. It doesn't matter what you did to get put in prison as long as after you break the law again by escaping you don't get in trouble again

I understand your view and

I understand your view and agree he can not hide from his past and must face it and go back to jail.

But I have also known Bill for over 10 years and it is hard to not to want compassion for the sweet, giving, hard working man we all know.

I don't believe he is the same person he was when he was sentenced to 20 years in jail. But the man he is now is the one who will carry out the sentence. And justice will be served.

What cost more ??

Now the judicial system is going to put this person in the jail. Food,clothing,shelter and medical care at tax payer expense. If this person has committed no other crime other than escape and identity theft is it fair to the tax payer to add another person to the system ? At least the folks the Social Security Administration did a good job in catching this person. So any money he paid into the system goes back in from his assumed and real identity. It is highly possible this person did not have regular medical checkups,so medical cost for him in prison are going to be expensive. Do the math. Cheaper not to incarcerate.

Ummm are you kidding me?

Ummm are you kidding me? This guy escaped from prison, and during his 26 year stint as a fugitive he was steeling money from the tax payers. This cannot be tolerated. Let him spend the rest of his live sitting in a cell thinking about what he did. Examples must be set.


He was trying to steal from tax payers.That is how they caught him.

But if he assumed another

But if he assumed another person's identity and used their SS# to work then would he have not been paying in toward it. So if they take his 27 years as Bill he should qualify and what about those to his years as Charles.