Facial recognition at the DMV helps capture an escaped prisoner

He escaped from a Minnesota prison 25 years ago.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Facial recognition at the DMV helped capture a man who escaped from a Minnesota prison 25 years ago.

That man is 64-year-old Robert Frederick Nelson, who was convicted on several counterfeiting charges in the 1980s.

In 1992, he escaped the Federal Medical Center prison in Rochester, Minnesota, and then went on to commit a bunch of "violent felonies" in Nevada using a different identity, according to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles.

Officials caught up with him last month while he was trying to renew his Nevada ID. The DMV's facial recognition system discovered his face was the same as someone else who previously had a Nevada driver's license, the department says.

So what happened?

Apparently after escaping from prison, Nelson started using the identity Craig James Pautler and he got a Nevada commercial driver's license under that identity. He's accused of committing several crimes under that name, including armed robberies, burglaries and escaping a Nevada holding facility with a weapon.

Then in the mid-2000s, Nelson switched back to using the name Nelson. In 2013 he got a Nevada ID with his real name, and when he went to renew it on June 5, his ID card was withheld because he matched Pautler's identity.

He was arrested June 20, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons extradited him with the help of U.S. Marshals on July 3.

Nelson will serve his remaining sentence for the counterfeiting charges, as well as some extra time for escaping from prison 25 years ago, the release says. The charges against him stemming from the crimes he's accused of in Nevada were dropped to help with his extradition.

Nevada has been using facial recognition at the DMV since 2008, and officials say it helped them arrest a few dozen people in the first six months it was implemented, the Star Tribune reports. And it still helps officials arrest several people every month.

Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services has a facial recognition system, too. Megan Leonard of the Department of Public Safety told GoMN the system is only used to "identify possible fraud or duplicate photos within the DVS database."

"There is no outside access, and this system is not shared with law enforcement," she added.

GoMN has reached out to the federal Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Marshals for more information on Nelson, including how he escaped from prison.

Next Up

ballot voting vote

Appeals court changes rules for MN absentee ballots received after Election Day

Pending a further challenge, votes received after 8 p.m. on Election Day may not be counted.

Donald Trump

Confusion over where Trump campaign rally will be held Friday

It sounds like it'll be held at the airport in Rochester.

Screen Shot 2020-10-29 at 3.19.05 PM

This video of the Lowry Hill Tunnel walls being cleaned is oddly satisfying

The tunnel will be closed overnight Thursday for cleaning.

gray wolf

Gray wolf removed from the endangered species list

A decision on whether they can be hunted in Minnesota will come later.

covid saliva test

Minnesota opening its 7th saliva testing location in St. Paul

The tests are free and open to anyone regardless of if they have symptoms.

pete stauber - qunn nystrom CD8

Election 2020 preview: Minnesota's 8th Congressional District

It's a race between incumbent Rep. Pete Stauber and Democratic challenger Quinn Nystrom.

coronavirus, covid-19, icu

Minnesota's COVID-19 hospitalizations increase by 27.5% in 24 hours

Bring Me The News confirmed that the dramatic increase is not a numbers error.

fire, flames

Lives saved as passerby, city workers rescue from 3 from Golden Valley fire

The Golden Valley Fire Department responded to the fire Wednesday morning.

Caribou Coffee Holiday 2020

Caribou Coffee rolls out holiday cups, menu early

The holiday season is underway at some Twin Cities stores, with a nationwide rollout planned for Nov. 5.

Related

3M eyes facial recognition technology despite privacy concerns

From social media to thwarting crime and terrorism, facial recognition technology is becoming a big business and one Minnesota company is looking to cash in. A couple years ago, Maplewood-based 3M acquired the California company Cogent, which develops a variety of identification systems, for nearly $1 billion. 3M Cogent marketing director Teresa Wu tells the Star Tribune, "The next step in applications will be face-in-the-crowd -- identifying people at long distance."

Ryan Petro

Escaped prisoner caught, found hiding next to a Dollar Tree

The 34-year-old escaped in Wadena, prompting a day-long manhunt.

Update: Final escaped inmate caught after being spotted by 911 caller

He was arrested after someone spotted him in a Minneapolis park.

Franken raises privacy concerns about Facebook's facial recognition

Sen. Al Franken wants Facebook to be more upfront about its facial recognition technology and how it plans to use it. Franken grilled a company executive at a Capitol Hill hearing. Facebook has an estimated 60 billion pictures of people, the world's largest photo database.

Serial con man captured women's hearts, then stole their money

The Twin Cities man will spend the next 24 years in prison for his scheme.