Captain Accused of Using Dead Woman’s Identity

     HOUSTON (CN) – A dinner cruise ship captain was arrested Thursday on accusations that she got her mariner’s license with a dead woman’s identity that she used for more than 20 years.
     A federal grand jury returned a sealed four-count indictment against Cynthia Lyerla, 52, on Tuesday and it was unsealed Thursday upon her arrest, the Southern Texas U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
     Lyerla assumed the identity of Christina White after her fingerprints were taken for an investigation of her husband’s 1988 murder in Lompoc, Calif., prosecutors said. Someone else was convicted for the murder of Harold Lyerla.
     White died in 1965 and Lyerla used her identity to get driver’s licenses, passports, mariner licenses and clearance from the Transportation Security Administration to enter secure ports, which she needed to captain ships for Majestic Ventures, Majestic Dinner Cruises and Majestic Yacht Charters, according to prosecutors.
     The companies rent luxury yachts for parties and weddings in Texas that sail in Galveston Bay and Clear Lake, a brackish lake that flows into the bay.
     Lyerla’s true identity came out through fingerprints that were taken for a mariner license application, prosecutors said.
     If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in federal prison.

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