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Invisible ink, detailed maps of military bases and documents with coded language were just a few of the items discovered in the home of a Hawaiian couple accused of living for decades under stolen identities, according to prosecutors.
Authorities also found photos taken in the 1980s of the couple wearing what appears to be authentic KGB uniforms — but they stopped short of accusing the couple of espionage, according to the Associated Press.
“We think the defendant is obviously quite adept at impersonating other people, obtaining government ID documents, fraud, avoiding detection,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Myers said Thursday at a court hearing for Walter Glenn Primrose. “He may — we’re not saying for sure — but he may have some troubling foreign connections.”
Myers lobbied the judge to keep Primrose in custody, arguing that he might be able to use his alleged connections “to enlist help.”
Primrose and his wife, Gwynn Darle Morrison, are facing charges of aggravated identity theft, conspiracy, and false statements in the application for and use of a passport, after authorities allege that, in the 1980s, the pair stole the identities of long-dead babies and then lived under their assumed names for decades, securing passports and driver’s licenses under their new personas.
Myers said the couple, who married in 1980, allegedly told their family in the mid-1980s they were going into the witness protection program and walked away from their Nacogdoches, Texas home, turning the keys over to family members and allowing the home to go into foreclosure.
Primrose allegedly took on the name Bobby Edward Fort — an infant who had died in the 1960s from asphyxia — shaving 12 years off his actual age and allowing him to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard. There, he earned a secret-level security clearance and worked for decades until transitioning to a defense contractor position after his retirement in 2016, according to a complaint and affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.
Authorities alleged that Morrison took on the identity of Julie Lynn Montague, after securing a Texas birth certificate for the infant — who had died in 1968 — in 1987.
“The defendant and his wife reportedly told yet other associates that they needed to change their names because of legal and financial reasons,” Myers said. “And that going forward they can be contacted using their new names, Fort and Montague.”
After they were taken into custody last week, authorities searched the couple's Hawaii home and discovered the invisible ink, detailed maps of military bases, documents with coded language and correspondence from an associate who believed that Primrose was either a CIA agent or terrorist.
Myers added that when the couple was left together in a room they were captured saying “things consistent with espionage” to one another, per the AP.
Authorities also believe Morrison had once lived in Romania — a claim her attorney has denied.
The couple also appeared to have gone to great lengths to keep their life private. Primrose allegedly once told someone he couldn’t appear in photos because of his government position and Morrison had directed her family to reach out to her through a post office box — yet the family had been unable to find her when her father passed away.
In court Thursday at the hearing for Primrose, federal defender Craig Jerome called the government’s assertions “speculation and innuendo.”
While arguing for his client’s release, he said the government had painted the pair as being involved in something far more secretive than the “purely white-collar nonviolent offenses,” which they had been charged with.
“If it wasn’t for the speculation that the government’s injected into these proceedings without providing any real evidence ... he would certainly be released,” Jerome said.
Despite the defense argument, U.S. Magistrate Judge Rom Trader ordered the 66-year-old held without bond noting that the alleged fraud he’s accused of consisted of “multiple occasions” and spanned over “a long period of time.”
Morrison’s bond hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.
Her attorney, Megan Kau, told Hawaii News Now that Morrison was “shocked” by the allegations and insisted “she has nothing to do with Russia.”
“She wants the world to know that she’s not a spy,” she told the outlet.
She said the couple did not own the KGB jacket and took pictures after trying it on at a friend’s house, noting that it looks like the same jacket is used in both photos.
She called the government’s attempt to hold the pair without bond unreasonable, given their lack of criminal record and non-violent charges against them.
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