Having spent almost a year and a half in a Florida jail awaiting possible deportation, "Slick Rick" Walters would gladly trade shoes with just about anyone willing. Unfortunately for the rapper, the North Carolina man who has illegally assumed his identity has managed to dodge incarceration. Twenty-nine-year-old Steven Glenn has co-opted Walters' name, committing mail and identity fraud and stalking Walters' wife.
Walters' plight dates back to a 1991 conviction for attempted murder in the second degree, for which he stretched two-and-a-half years. "The crime he committed was anomalous in his life," says a source close to Walters. "He just chose the wrong way to defend himself." Five months after his discharge into a work-release program, Walters, 38, was arrested again as the Immigration and Naturalization Service had begun deportation proceedings in accordance to the law which requires such for foreign nationals who commit crimes in the U.S.
Walters' property ownership, family in the States, charity work and other factors earned him a waiver from the law, however, and he dodged deportation and he was released in January 1996.
Walters went about resuming his recording career, releasing a strong album, The Art of Storytelling in 1999. But in June 2002 -- after a post-9/11 immigration crackdown -- INS again targeted Walters, arresting him again after returning to the U.S. from a vacation and charging him with illegally re-entering the country. Last December, his deportation was blocked, but despite his ties and connections in the country, he was considered a flight risk and denied bail. Walters has been locked up in Bradenton, Florida, since then, as U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood continues to slowly ponder his case. "I am grateful that the judge stopped my deportation in December, and I totally understand that homeland security is going through changes and the judge has a heavy caseload," Walters says. "But I'm disappointed and saddened that I can't get an answer to how much longer."
While Walters has been locked up in Florida, Glenn assumed his persona, allegedly renting cars under his name, calling Walters' wife collect and having his mail forwarded. In April he was arrested and charged with seven counts of fraud. Glenn underwent a psychiatric examination and was ultimately released and the charges against him were dropped.
"When he called me pretending to be Rick, it was just heart-wrenching," Walters' wife Mandy Aragones says. "But mostly I feel sorry for Rick, he feels helpless in there. It's really sad the way the system works. In some ways, though, it's been so surreal it seems like it's not happening to us."
On October 23rd, Glenn appeared outside Aragones' home in the Bronx. She called the police and Glenn was arrested. At press time he was in the care of Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center, which confirmed his presence there, but could offer no further comment. No charges have been filed against Glenn in New York, and a Bronx Criminal Court denied Aragones' request for a restraining order, claiming that there wasn't enough evidence to prove that Glenn is a threat.
"He's free and I'm still in jail," Walters says. "It's abusive and an injustice."
Meanwhile, Walters continues to wait in Florida for word of his release or deportation. Next month marks the eighteenth month he has been incarcerated. And he says he's trying to make the best of the situation. "Physically I'm in great condition," he says. "I've trimmed down some so I feel more youthful. Mentally I'm OK and have great faith. My life and future are in someone else's hands right now: physically, Judge Kimba Wood, and spiritually God. I have a great support system and do not stand alone right now."