Investigators: Legally dead man stole Phoenix man's SSN, lived in Vegas

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PHOENIX – An identity-theft nightmare that has been plaguing a Phoenix man for years could finally be over now that the suspect, a former Chicago commodities broker who disappeared amid gambling and marital problems 32 years ago, has been arrested in Las Vegas.

Leaving his wife and three children behind in May 1979, Arthur Gerald Jones, 72, was declared dead by an Illinois court in 1986. While his disappearance was invested by the FBI, agents never solved the case.

The information that led investigators to Jones came from a Phoenix man name Clifton Goodenough.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Goodenough, a registered nurse at the VA hospital in Phoenix, has been making allegations about identity theft for about 15 years as he tried to convince the Internal Revenue Service that he was not actually a bookie in Las Vegas.

Goodenough said his tax issues go back to 1995, when mysterious income started showing up on his federal wage records.

"It's been a longer road to straighten this out than I ever expected,” Goodenough told Tribune reported John Byrne.

It turns out that Jones allegedly stole Goodenough’s Social Security number before he vanished and apparently was using it to hide in plain sight. The Nevada attorney general believes it was a deliberate scheme for Jones to start a new life as a single man.

Investigators believe Jones paid a Chicago friend $800 for Goodenough’s Social Security number and other false documents in order to disappear.

Jones reportedly was working under the name Joseph Richard Sandelli when he was finally caught. It’s a name Goodenough already knew.

Goodenough told the Tribune he actually called Jones/Sandelli to confront him last year, but did not get anywhere. Two months ago, he wrote a letter to Arizona Sen. John McCain, begging for help. He told the Tribune he believes that letter was a turning point in his case.

Goodenough also believes his ongoing battle with the IRS was instrumental in Jones' arrest.

Jones was arrested last Tuesday and now faces a variety of charges, including felony counts of burglary, identity theft and fraud.