Huge pot bust leads to mistaken identity

Meet the other Robert Shipley – the Auburn man who isn’t in a Midwest jail on drug, weapons charges
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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What’s in a name? For Auburn contractor Robert Shipley, it’s an embarrassing and possibly costly case of mistaken identity as he finds himself being mixed up with another Robert Shipley – also of Auburn – who’s in jail facing serious drug and weapons charges in Nebraska. Robert Franklin Shipley – the one who’s not in jail and likes to go by “Rob” – has been working as a general contractor in Auburn for the past two decades. Based on Andregg Road, his Rob Shipley Construction Inc. does commercial and residential remodeling. Robert L. Shipley – the one in custody at the Lancaster County Correction Facility near Lincoln, Nebraska – was arrested by Nebraska State Patrol troopers after a speeding stop that yielded 41 pounds of marijuana. Troopers also found a .25 caliber handgun in a small bag next to the driver’s seat, a spokesperson for that state’s equivalent of the highway patrol said. Shipley – Robert F. – said he’s no relation to the other Shipley but is already finding the mix-up is causing some confusion among friends and acquaintances. And because he works with banks and other commercial enterprises that need to be assured their contractor is on the up-and-up, he wants to set the record straight on the identity of the drug and weapons suspect – and the contractor people may see driving around Auburn in a pickup clearly marked “Rob Shipley Construction.” For friends who know Robert F. Shipley well, the “arrest” is a subject of mirth. “One buddy said with a concerned look, “Did you just get out of jail?” when he saw me,” the contracting Shipley said. “He gave me a hard time because he knows. It’s just not me.” Janet Konrad, whose family has known Robert F. Shipley for more than a decade, said she was shocked when she saw her friend’s name. Then she saw the age of the suspect farther down in the Journal story about the arrest and knew it wasn’t him. “Initially, I was horrified,” Konrad said. “I hadn’t seen him for a couple of months and I wondered how he could have slid downhill so quickly.” Robert F. Shipley said that word also spread around at church last Sunday after the Journal published a story on the Nov. 18 arrest on Interstate 80. And he’s even gone onto the Journal website stories to find people defending him – not knowing that it’s another Robert Shipley. For people who may know him by name only, Robert F. Shipley said it could be a problem rebuilding trust because of false assumptions. Visiting the Auburn Journal on Friday, Robert F. Shipley voluntarily pulled out his California driver’s license to show he was not the Robert L. Shipley housed at the Nebraska jail since his arrest. Bail has been set at $50,000. Robert F. Shipley in Auburn is 45. Robert L. Shipley, lately of Nebraska, is 57. “I’m blessed that I’m working because of return clients and referrals,” Robert F. Shipley said. “And I have laughed about it. But in the end, it’s not good at all.” A Lancaster County employee confirmed Friday that Robert L. Shipley continued to be incarcerated at the county’s lockup. Charges are intent to deliver marijuana and possession of a firearm during a drug violation. He’s scheduled to appear in Lancaster County Court for a preliminary hearing Dec. 14. A State Patrol search dog sniffed what appeared to be drugs during the stop and the marijuana was located in two large speakers and a duffel bag in the cargo area of the U-Haul that Robert L. Shipley was driving. Based on a conservative retail “street” price of $200 an ounce, the seized pot had a potential value of $131,200. ------------------------------------------- Local mixups Two people with the same name in a relatively small town are bound to cause confusion. Here are some notable locals with the potential for mix-ups: n Sibling confusion Placer County Supervisor Jim Holmes and Auburn Councilman Mike Holmes. The two elected officials are brothers. n Which is which? Bruce Cosgrove is the longtime executive director of the Auburn Chamber of Commerce. Judge John Cosgrove has served on the bench in Placer County for more than two decades. Tom Cosgrove is currently the mayor of Lincoln. The three are not directly related. – Gus Thomson