A 73-year-old man living in a cul-de-sac near Sacramento, Calif., who once ran a small towing company, appeared to be quiet and decent to his neighbours.
Little did they know, Thomas Carl Coy was a stolen alias to cover their neighbour’s true identity: John Paul Halleux, who escaped from Stony Mountain Institution in 1973 and disappeared from law enforcement’s radar for more than 40 years.
A warrant for Halleux’s re-arrest was issued by Stony Mountain in June 2013, but it remained outstanding until Corrections Services Canada was notified that Halleux was arrested by law enforcement officials in Sacramento in September 2017 for perjury and identity theft.
Photos from CSC and fingerprints from the RCMP confirmed Halleux’s true identity when he was arrested in Sacramento.
The Canadian government filed to extradite Halleux in October 2018 so he could return to serve the rest of his Canadian sentence, according to court documents.
Halleux appeared in court in Sacramento Wednesday and signed a waiver of extradition. He’s being held in custody at Sacramento County Jail until he’s handed over to Canadian authorities.
Under Canadian law, time spent in custody by Halleux while awaiting extradition does not count toward his remaining sentence.
Trouble with the law
Halleux’s criminal background began in November 1969, when Ontario Provincial Police found a post office and general store’s front door and glass window were damaged.
While investigating, officers found Halleux in a vehicle parked in front of the store. Police searched him and found two screwdrivers, a pair of vise grips and a blue wool glove. Marks left on the shop’s door matched damage marks on the tools found on Halleux, court documents say.
Halleux, then 23 years old, was convicted of possession of housebreaking instruments in January 1970 and sentenced to four years in a federal prison in Ontario.
He was granted parole in November 1971, but a man who identified himself as Jean Paul Halleux was arrested by RCMP in March 1972 for breaking into a lumber yard in Fannystelle, Man., a community nearly 50 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg.
Halleux was convicted of break and enter with intent in April 1972 and dealt a two-year sentence at Stony Mountain Institution.
While out on parole in June 1972, he was convicted of driving while disqualified in the St. Boniface area. Halleux was sentenced to more prison time after not being able to pay a fine of $253.30.
According to legal papers, Halleux’s sentence for all charges totalled 2,221 days, but he broke out of Stony Mountain with 885 days left to serve.
On the lam
For more than four decades, Halleux evaded police by using various iterations of his own name and Jack Joseph Rivard, but he also used the alias Thomas Carl Coy.
In a California cemetery, Thomas Carl Coy is the name engraved on a tombstone belonging to a two-year-old boy who died July 12, 1949.
Under that name, Halleux opened his own tow truck company, called TLC Tow & Transport. According to its sole Yelp review, it provided quality customer service.
“Tom met me within a half hour and got my vehicle on the tow truck bed within eight minutes,” the reviewer said.
“I was thoroughly impressed… He was even chatting it up with me during the process. Very friendly guy.”
The law finally caught up with Halleux on Feb. 19, 2015, though.
That day, Halleux, used “John Doe” or the Coy alias to identify himself to the Department of Motor Vehicle Certificate of Title in Sacramento. In doing so, he unlawfully obtained personal identification from a government agency by purposely using a fake name, a court document says.
A court ordered on Jan. 10, 2018 that Halleux wear a GPS monitor instead of being held in custody until he appears in court for the perjury and identity theft charges. According to the Sacramento District Attorney’s office, Halleux’s next court appearance is slated for Mar. 11, 2020.
But on Tuesday, federal prosecutors in Sacramento requested that Halleux be detained without bail until he’s extradited because he’s a flight risk.
“Halleux previously escaped from prison and has evaded Canadian authorities for almost 40 years,” assistant U.S. attorney Quinn Hochhalter said in the court document.
“Allowance of bail in any amount would not guarantee Halleux’s presence in court and would invite the possibility of embarrassing the United States in the conduct of its foreign affairs.”
In special cases, bail could be granted to people waiting extradition. But even if Halleux was not a flight risk, “the government is unaware of any ‘special circumstances’ that would justify bail in this case,” Scott said.
Halleux is being held in Sacramento County Jail until his extradition.
An assistant to Hochhalter told CBC News that the extradition could take between one and three weeks, as U.S. marshals have to arrange transportation.