A veteran flight attendant who worked for United Airlines for 23 years using a stolen identity is now facing several charges.

A federal complaint filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston accuses Brazilian national Ricardo Cesar Guedes of identity theft.

Guedes was born in São Paulo, Brazil in 1972. When he moved to the United States, Guedes took the name and identity of William Ericson Ladd, going by the nickname ‘Eric’.

However, William Ericson Ladd was born in Atlanta in 1974 and died in a car crash in 1979 in Washington state, just a month before his fifth birthday, according to the complaint. 

It is alleged that Guedes assumed Ladd's identity in 1998 when he successfully applied for a US passport using Ladd’s name. Guedes lived under this fake identity for 23 years, even sponsoring his partner’s residency permit. Since 1998, Guedes has been able to renew this passport six times. 

However, in December 2020, Guedes tried to get his passport renewed, and the State Department noticed several “fraud indicators,” and an investigation was launched

The Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) made several checks and contacted Ladd's mother, Debra Lynn Hays, who confirmed the boy's birth and death to DSS special agents in July 2021.

A criminal investigation was then launched into Guedes, and agents were able to trace his identity back to Brazil with fingerprints he submitted for his Brazilian national identity document in the 1990s.

United Airlines confirmed to US media Insider that Guedes is no longer with the company.

"United has a thorough verification process for new employees that complies with federal legal requirements," the carrier said.

Guedes was arrested at Houston Airport (IAH) where federal agents were waiting for him to pass through a Crewmember Checkpoint, an entrance that eligible flight attendants use to enter the secure area of the airport without having to go through security.

Based on the complaint, Guedes has been charged with providing a false statement in a passport application, falsely impersonating a US citizen, and entering a secure airport area under false pretenses.