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Navy Deserter Caught After 17 Years

March 22, 1996

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ After 17 years of living on the streets, Navy deserter Timothy Quinn has stopped running.

Quinn, who went AWOL one month before his enlistment was up, was arrested Wednesday in San Diego.

``It’s one of the longest cases of desertion I’ve ever heard of,″ said Navy spokesman Lt. Jeff Wieman.

Quinn, 37, was among a group of five transients standing on a streetcorner Wednesday drinking from open containers, said police spokesman Bill Robinson. Officers questioning the men became suspicious when Quinn started to walk away and a background check revealed that he was a military deserter.

``The man was remorseful,″ Robinson said. ``He was sorry he had been on the lam so long, and he also said he was glad it was over.″

Seaman Quinn, who joined the Navy in June 1976, is being held at Miramar Naval Air Station until an investigation is complete. He could face a court-martial, Wieman said.

Robinson said Quinn has been a transient since walking off the guided missile destroyer Berkeley on July 18, 1979. He did, however, receive food stamps in Los Angeles under his real name.

``He was living on the streets of Los Angeles and San Diego and all points in between,″ Robinson said.

Although he didn’t say why he deserted, Quinn told police he had experienced trouble on the ship, Robinson said.

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