Southern California

Longtime marijuana fugitive pleads to using dead California kid’s name to create alias

SAN FRANCISCO — A man who skipped bail and eluded federal authorities for nearly 25 years after he was allegedly caught unloading a shipment of marijuana in Santa Barbara took a plea deal last month, records show.

Robert Solakian pleaded guilty to identity theft and making a false statement in a passport application. Solakian could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to court records. His sentencing has been set for Nov. 2.

The charges stem from Solakian’s time on the lam, which started shortly before he was set to be tried on marijuana trafficking charges in 1995. The year before, Solakian and a group of others were caught attempting to unload 7,000 pound of marijuana onto a Santa Barbara beach, Drug Enforcement Agents said at the time.

After jumping bail, Solakian wasn’t heard from again until last February, when he was arrested on suspicion of usurping the identity of a child who died in Santa Barbara, prosecutors said. The dead child was identified in court records only by the initials “P.O.G.” Authorities say he was born in October 1947 and died in May 1953.

Two weeks before Solakian accepted a plea deal, federal prosecutors in Southern California dismissed the pot case against him.