Mon. Sep 25th, 2023

In a stroke of almost impossible luck, federal postal inspector Jeff Andre found himself at the right place at the right time. Andre was on vacation at Walt Disney World right before Halloween. While in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Andre spotted a fugitive that the authorities had been searching for — Quashon Burton, a man from New York who had been on the run for nearly a year.
Amid the thousands of tourists who come every day to ride Expedition Everest and stroll through Pandora, sure enough, there was Burton with his unique neck tattoo.
Andre was the person who signed the complaint against Burton in 2021 in the U.S. District Court’s Southern District of New York. In that federal document, Andre laid out the case against Burton.
Burton was accused of stealing at least four people’s identities and using their personal information to fraudulently take out government loans. Burton stole about $150,000 in forgivable federal loans intended to help struggling businesses survive 2020 at the height of the pandemic, according to court documents.
Burton was accused of using an ATM and buying money orders from a New York post office to access the money after the loans were approved.
“During the scheme charged in this case, the defendant used fraudulent email accounts, fake identification documents, bank accounts and bank cards in the names of other individuals, and stolen personal identification information in a manner that created a complex web of identities that made his crimes difficult to investigate,” according to federal court documents. “He has clearly demonstrated an ability to mask his true identity to evade law enforcement. So too has he demonstrated a willingness to lie about this identity to avoid arrest. “
Catching Burton, 31, was not going to be easy.
Law enforcement went to arrest Burton on November 29, 2021, in Brooklyn, New York, but Burton was gone.
“USPIS agents visited the home on two other occasions and were informed by Burton’s mother that Burton would not be self-surrendering,” read federal court documents.
Instead, Burton became a fugitive.
Burton kept using fake identities — including when he went to Walt Disney World, authorities said.
Burton had a “distinct neck tattoo,” the letter “H” written in cursive.
Andre recognized Burton at Animal Kingdom around 3:05 p.m. on October 20 and alerted the Orange County Sheriff’s Office that a fugitive was inside the park. The sheriff’s report doesn’t say where in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Burton was first noticed.
The sheriff’s office verified Andre was who he said he was and confirmed Burton was a wanted man. The deputy saw Burton’s photograph to make sure it was the right person.
More than an hour went by until the sheriff’s office confronted Burton. Disney Security apparently tracked Burton, who by then was outside Disney’s Animal Kingdom and waiting at a bus stop with two of his family members, according to a sheriff’s report.
Burton’s freedom was fleeting.
The sheriff’s deputy wrote, “I advised Quashon that I needed to speak with him about the possible suspicious activity he was involved in, and he questioned why he needed to provide his identification. Later, I advised him he was the subject of a warrant, and when I attempted to secure him, he began tensing up and bracing his arms. I informed him multiple times to place his hands behind his back, but he refused. Due to Quashon’s resistance, I placed my chest to his side and my arms around his hips and took him to the ground to safely secure him. Quashon refused to identify himself during my investigation…. Based on Quashon’s resistance, he was charged with resisting an officer without violence.”
Burton, who was visiting the theme park under a fake name, refused to admit he was Quashon Burton even after fingerprints proved his true identity, according to federal documents.
He was taken to Orange County Jail and transferred to federal custody.
On October 27, Magistrate Judge David Baker ruled Burton could be released as long as he had GPS monitoring and underwent pretrial supervision back in New York, among other conditions. The magistrate judge made the ruling during a detention hearing in the Middle District of Florida.
However, federal prosecutors from New York are fighting that decision, calling Burton “an extreme risk of flight” and should remain in custody.
During a hearing Thursday, Judge Lewis Kaplan from the Southern District of New York ruled in favor of the government and said Burton should not be released on bail before trial.
Burton’s attorney did not immediately respond to a message for comment.
This is the second recent incident at Disney’s Animal Kingdom that WDWNT has reported. Earlier this year, a teenager was arrested after drunkenly speeding into the parking plaza.
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