Identity theft spanning 35 years ends with guilty plea

A former Iowa hospital systems administrator who stole a co-worker’s identity in 1988 and caused the false imprisonment of his victim has pleaded guilty to federal charges.

Matthew David Keirans, 58, allegedly stole the identity of William Donald Woods more than three decades ago when both worked at a hot dog cart in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Keirans assumed the victim’s identity and used it in “every aspect of his life” since then, according to the US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Iowa.

He obtained employment, opened bank accounts, paid taxes, and took loans and insurance under the assumed identity. He even has a son whose last name is Woods, according to The Gazette, an Iowa newspaper.

Keirans obtained several false documents in the victim’s name, including a Kentucky birth certificate in 2012. Using the false identity, including a fictitious I-9 form, social security number, and date of birth, he was hired as a high-level administrator in an Iowa City hospital.

According to the court documents, Keirans’ access and roles in the hospital’s system architecture were “the highest it could be,” and he was “the key administrator of critical systems.”

Keirans worked remotely from his home in Wisconsin and earned more than $700,000 during his 10 years of employment, The Gazette reported. His salary in 2023 was $140,501, according to the hospital.

In the years between 2016 and 2022, Keirans also obtained multiple vehicle and personal loans from Iowa credit unions under Wood’s name, totaling more than $200,000.

Matthew David Keirans

The real Woods reportedly learned that someone was using his identity in 2019 when he was homeless and living in Los Angeles. The victim went to the national bank branch and told the manager that he had recently discovered someone was using his credit and had accumulated large amounts of debt.

Woods said he did not want to pay the debt and wished to close his accounts at the bank, according to the attorney’s office. He presented the bank with his true social identity card, as well as an authentic State of California ID.

However, Woods could not answer a series of security questions and the bank called the Los Angeles Police Department, which then contacted Keirans on the phone. Keirans said he did not give anyone permission to access his bank accounts.

Keirans then faxed the police a series of fake identification documents, which resulted in his victim’s arrest on two felony charges. Horrendously, Woods was charged in his perpetrator’s name, Matthew Keirans.

All the while, the real Keirans actively followed the subsequent proceedings, regularly requesting updates from the authorities. His victim continued to assert, correctly, throughout his prosecution that he was actually William Woods, which made a California state judge rule that he was not mentally competent to stand trial.

The victim was ordered to receive psychotropic medication and spent 147 days in a mental hospital as a result, as well as 428 days in county jail. He was also told by the court that he must only use his “real” name in the future.

He was released from custody in March 2021 after pleading “no contest” to the two felony charges in exchange for a “time-served” sentence.

Following his release, the victim continued attempts to regain his identity, while Keirans continued to make false reports to law enforcement officials in Wisconsin and California, the attorney’s office said.

Eventually, upon learning where Keirans was employed in January 2023, the victim contacted the Iowa City hospital’s security department. His complaint was referred to a local law enforcement agency, which investigated further.

The case was assigned to an experienced detective, who unraveled Keirans’ identity theft scheme in the course of the following months, including DNA evidence conclusively proving that he was not what he claimed to be.

Keirans was convicted of one count of false statement to a National Credit Union Administration-insured institution and one count of aggravated identity theft. He faces up to 32 years in prison, a $1.25 million fine, and five years of supervised release following any imprisonment.

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