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Pasco County Man Arrested for Living Under Deceased Man's Identity for Two Decades

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Richard Hoagland sits in a Pasco County jail cell today. Declared legally dead in 2003, state and federal authorities say that he has been living life as Terry Jude Symansky, who has been deceased for 25 years next Saturday.

According to local media, research conducted three years ago by the real Symansky's nephew on a popular genealogy site turned up a marriage license from 1995. Although Symansky's family initially delayed contacting authorities, allegedly out of fear that he might harm them, they relented and came forward in April.

After allegedly taking on Symansky's identity, Hoagland settled in Zephyrhills twenty years ago and has lived as Symansky until last Wednesday. Authorities allege that in the intervening decades Hoagland worked odd jobs, purchased residences and rented them to others, obtained a driver's license and a pilot's license, and fathered a son with his wife, who is now a teenager.

Back in Indiana, where authorities say Hoagland is from, he allegedly left his first wife, who had him declared legally dead in 2003. Deputies say his first wife told them that Hoagland left because he said the FBI was pursuing him due to a large amount of money he claimed to have stolen. However, authorities in Florida indicate that he told them the reason he left Indiana to escape from her.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office is attempting to determine whether the FBI is in fact in search of Hoagland. While he was allegedly living as Symansky, Hoagland has no arrest record under either name prior to last Wednesday.

Authorities say the real Terry Symansky was born in Cleveland and moved to Florida to pursue a career as a fisherman. He passed away on August 6, 1991, and is interred in Fred Hunter's Hollywood Memorial Gardens North.

Hoagland is being held on a $25,000 bond on one charge of fraudulent use of personal identification.

The Law Offices of Bjorn Brunvand has been defending individuals charged with white-collar crimes like identity theft in state and federal courts for over a quarter of a century. Call us today to discuss your Tampa Bay-area charges.

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