Fake name leads to felony charges

Published 8:51 pm Friday, April 19, 2013

Patrice Gorham

Patrice Gorham


A woman who gave her cousin’s name when she was pulled over by a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office patrol deputy faces a felony charge of identity theft, according to a sheriff’s office press release.

Patrice Donnette Gorham, 26, of East 15th Street, Washington, was arrested on April 14, on charges of identity theft, providing fictitious information to an officer, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of an open container in the passenger area and driving while licensed revoked.

The charges against Gorham came from a March 31 incident in which Deputy Jonathan Fowler stopped a vehicle being driving erratically on Highway 17 South in Washington, said the release. Fowler ran the name and birth date the Gorham had given him — the birth date was incorrect, and Fowler arrested the Gorham for driving while licensed revoked and providing fictitious information to a law enforcement officer. A search of the vehicle revealed two open containers of liquor and drug paraphernalia, said the release. Both Gorham and her passenger were charged with possession of an open container.

It was only when a cousin of Gorham’s called the sheriff’s office that investigators learned Gorham had used a fraudulent identity during the traffic stop.

“The cousin saw the suspect’s picture in Jailbird or Slammer but saw her name under her cousin’s picture and realized what had happened,” said Maj. Kenneth Watson, spokesman for the sheriff’s office. “She was very upset.”

Fowler obtained warrants for the identity theft charge, as well as one for the passenger in the vehicle—resisting a public officer.

“Anytime you use someone else’s personal information to avoid financial consequences, you’re committing felony identity theft,” Watson said.

In this case, the financial consequences would have been court costs, he added.

As for the passenger’s resisting a public officer charge, Watson said it was issued because of the nature of the involvement.

“Instead of participating and helping forward the cause, the passenger just withheld information. The deputy felt that the lack of action on the part of the passenger fell within that charge,” Watson said, explaining that Fowler could have charged the passenger with aiding and abetting the felony, which would be a more serious charge.

Gorham turned herself in to the sheriff’s office on April 14 and was held at the Beaufort County Detention Center under a $1,500 secured bond.