Arizona man arrested after faking death to avoid registering as sex offender: 'Nice try'

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A man in Arizona was arrested earlier this week after he allegedly faked his own death to avoid registering as a sex offender, according to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.

Benjamin Hollins, 50, who was originally convicted as a sex offender more than 20 years ago in California, was arrested on Tuesday after officers with the Chandler Police Department located him living at a home in Mesa, Arizona, under a false identity.

The sheriff’s office did not say why police were looking for him or how they came across him.

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Hollins was living in Arizona City by 2018 and had failed to register as a sex offender outside of California, according to a post by the sheriff’s office on Facebook. He was also working as a behavioral health counselor.

During that job, Hollins kidnapped and attempted to molest a 16-year-old client. He was sentenced to supervised probation after taking a plea deal, which required him to register as a sex offender every year.

He did not follow through with the requirement and attempted to fake his own death in October 2023, the sheriff’s office said. 

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A woman, who has not been identified, told police she witnessed Hollins take his life by jumping off the bridge at the Theodore Roosevelt Lake Dam between Gila and Maricopa counties.

“A lot of resources were wasted looking for his body, which was clearly not found because he wasn’t dead,” Sheriff Mark Lamb said.

Benjamin Hollins in cop car

Hollins’ sex offender registration lapsed when he was “dead,” according to the sheriff’s office, and when he was found in Mesa, he was living with a family with young children. 

The family had “no idea about his history,” the sheriff’s office wrote.

Lamb explained Hollins’ arrest in a short video posted to Facebook on Thursday.

“Nice try, Benjamin. We found you. You’re not dead. We’re gonna hold you accountable,” Lamb said in the video.

Hollins is scheduled to be in court on Tuesday.

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