A Maryland man pleaded guilty yesterday to faking his own death in order to avoid a court date.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, the 36-year-old Forestville man, Benjamin E. Brown, Jr., has been convicted of obstruction of an official proceeding. Brown will face a maximum of 20 years at an August 6 hearing.

Evidently, in November 2007, Brown was supposed to appear in front of U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan in connection with criminal charges stemming from a probation violation. He didn’t show, but seemingly had a good excuse. The day before, someone had handed his probation officer a death certificate. The document said that Brown had been fatally shot on Nov. 10, 2007.

“The case was dismissed because everyone thought he was dead,” says Channing Phillips, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office.

However, Judge Sullivan noticed the death certificate was missing the tell-tale raised shield, Phillips says. He asked Brown’s probation officer to verify the certificate. Turns out, it was a fake.

It took nearly eight months to track down Brown, Phillips says.