A United Airlines flight attendant who built his life and career by stealing the identity of a dead U.S. citizen has been ordered into a mental health treatment program and may be deported back to his native Brazil after he reached a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Ricardo Cesar Guedes reached a plea deal with prosecutors in which he admitted illegally assuming the identity of Willian Ericson Ladd – a four-year-old boy from Atlanta who died in a car crash in Washington State in 1974. When Guedes moved from Brazil to the United States he managed to convince a passport officer to issue him a U.S. passport in the name of William Ladd.
Once he had the passport, Guedes built his life around his new identity and went by the name of Eric Ladd. He managed to land a job as a flight attendant at United Airlines where he worked for decades before finally being caught when fraud prevention managers at the State Department identified ‘various fraud indicators’ and ordered a criminal investigation in late 2020.
Investigators traced Ricardo’s identity back to Brazil where they were able to compare fingerprints he submitted for his Brazillian identity documents back in the 1990s with the fingerprints he supplied to United Airlines in the name of Eric Ladd.
Technical staff at Customs and Border Protection compared the two sets of fingerprints and determined that they were a match.
Guedes was detained in September 2021 at Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport as he went to board a flight working as a flight attendant as Eric Ladd.
He pleaded guilty to making a false statement in a passport application and false impersonation of a U.S. citizen. He was sentenced to seven months imprisonment which has already served on remand since his arrest.
Guedes must also complete one year of supervised release and participate in a mental health treatment program. He has been warned that he faces the prospect of being deported back to Brazil.
Handing down the sentence US District Court Judge George C Hanks Jr said Guedes was “a good man who basically made a very tragic mistake to fulfil his dream.”
Following his arrest, United Airlines confirmed Guedes had been dismissed. A spokesperson for the airline said of the incident: “United has a thorough verification process for new employees that complies with federal legal requirements.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.