Randy Waldron Jr.'s boyhood dream was to be an airline pilot. He hoped one day to "sit in the left seat of a great, big Boeing 777."
But his dream is on hold because of the very person who should have helped him the most.
Waldron, 27, is a licensed pilot desperate to find a job in the airline industry. Despite his fine reputation as a hard worker, he says he's been turned away time after time because of his father.
Waldron grew up in a rough neighborhood outside of Boston where he managed to avoid trouble as a kid thanks to his mother, whom he described as exceptional.
"I had some great role models, but no father to speak of," Waldron said.
Although Waldron grew up without a father, his grandparents pitched in to help raise him.
The Phone Call
When Waldron was 12, his father, who had left his mother when he was an infant, suddenly came back into his life.
Waldron received the phone call one day after school.
"I wanted to see him in the worst way," Waldron said. "And, you know, we were developing a sort of bond and he wanted to make up for lost time, at least I thought, genuinely, I thought so."
Waldron said his father acted as though a dozen years apart was normal and then invited his son to come down to Florida so they could meet.
"He gave me an American Express number card on the phone that I can still recite to memory this day. He said, 'Book whatever seats you want, stay in whatever hotel you want to stay in. Sit in first class if you want. I don't care. Get your mother a rental car. Do whatever you want. It's on me.' So 14 years old, get a credit card -- I had a blast!"
Randy Waldron Sr. was a big spender and for the next three years Waldron flew to Florida for every vacation. He became acquainted with his dad's multiple families and more than a dozen siblings.
Waldron Sr. was a flashy man with a big personality. His son described him as always having "a wad of 20s."
"And he would just, you know, 'What do you need? Do you want a book? Do you want a video? Do you want a Gameboy? You want this? You want that? Here!' And he'd just dole it out," Waldron said.
He believed that his father was a rich, successful businessman. Waldron Sr. owned a string of restaurants and was friends with the movers and shakers in his West Palm Beach community.
But there was another side to Waldron Sr., a hidden, dark side that wasn't revealed to his son until he turned 17.
Again, it was a phone call that changed Waldron's life for a second time.
A Faulty Credit Report
It all started when his mother wanted to put his name on one of her credit cards. "And she gets the application process started, puts me on the phone and I gave the nice lady my Social Security number and my date of birth, and 'OK. Fine. You'll get your card in four to six weeks.' Click. 'Goodbye.' That's the end of it."
But it was just the beginning. Soon the credit card company gave Waldron the shock of his life in the form of a denial letter.
"It said, 'Dear Randolph Waldron, your application for credit has been denied based on derogatory credit information found in your credit report.' And I'm thinking, 'Credit report? What the hell is a credit report?'"
Waldron thought it was a big mistake and sent away for his credit report. When the report arrived, the bad news was all there in black and white.
At 17 years old, he had multiple credit cards and a bankruptcy. The statement showed that he had bought and sold houses, cars, restaurants and apartments. In reality, Waldron says he had done none of that.
He was finding out that his father's fortune had been built on the credit of a teenager. Waldron Sr. had been posing as his son after having stolen his son's Social Security number.
"He had been using my identity for 14 years at that point," said Waldron.
Stolen Money and a Stolen Reputation
With the houses and the cars, the restaurants and the liens on various businesses after Waldron Sr. didn't pay his taxes, the total outstanding debt including interest was $2.5 million.
Waldron was badly in debt before his adult life had even started. He cannot buy a house or a car.
Waldron worked as a flight attendant, but was about to lose his job because a routine security check uncovered a criminal record that no one, not even he, knew about.
"My father had been arrested, always for the same thing: aggravated assault and battery. And every single time he was arrested, he gave the police departments my Social Security number! And my managers tell me you can't come back to work until you get this fixed."
Waldron was terrified. It was time to confront the father he thought he knew.
Cornering Waldron Sr.
Waldron contacted Theresa Ronnebaum, a victims' advocate in the Florida Attorney General's Office who said that technology today makes it very difficult for law enforcement to investigate a case and that "it's your responsibility to clear your name."
Waldron called Pete Palenzuela, a detective in the West Palm Beach sheriff's office.
"I really wanted to do everything I could to help him," Palenzuela said. "But every time him and I spoke, I have to explain to him, 'Hey, I need this and that' and have it succeed in a court of law."
Waldron hired an attorney and began looking for evidence. "My attorney draws up a series of affidavits and he said to me, 'The only way you're going to get out of this mess is to fly down to Florida, confront your father and tell him, "you sign this stuff or you're gonna go to jail."'"
Armed with legal documents that would prove his father had stolen his identity, Waldron flew to West Palm Beach and cornered his father, who signed each affidavit. Waldron then went to the sheriff's office where he said he left the affidavits for Palenzuela.
"I did not receive those affidavits," Palenzuela said.
Tracking Down Waldron Sr.
Waldron said after his dad signed the affidavits he lost track of him.
"20/20" spent weeks calling Waldron Sr. He did not return any phone calls. "20/20" finally tracked him at a restaurant he now owns in a shopping mall in West Palm Beach.
On a warm, sunny day, Waldron arrived unannounced at the back entrance of the restaurant where Waldron Sr. routinely parks.
"I was very anxious," Waldron said. "I hadn't seen the man in quite some time. And the one thought that weighed heavily on my mind was I really hope that he doesn't turn into a raving monster because he's volatile. You don't know what he's going to do. He'll boil over the top and we'd all get hurt. "
At 9:30 Randy's father pulled into the shopping mall and parked his car. He turned off the ignition, peered around the parking lot, and slowly got out of his pickup truck. At that point, "20/20" exited its van with camera crews.
It had been four years since Waldron Jr. had finally managed to receive a new Social Security number as well as the paperwork that tells police he is not Randy Waldron Sr. and that he never committed a crime. When his father saw the camera crew, he became agitated, and the encounter brought forth strong, conflicting emotions in Waldron, Jr.
"He was enraged that I was putting him on national television to hold him accountable for what he's done for 20 years," the son said.
Admission of Guilt
It didn't take long for the exchange to get ugly. Waldron Sr. only wanted to have words with his son and refused to answer any of Avila's questions. Then he spewed a barrage of profanity. Randy Waldron screamed at his son and paced around the parking lot. A big man, he made for an imposing figure as he spoke to his son, nose to nose, repeatedly accusing him of lying, and then making unexpected comments about his son's sexuality.
His son said, "Unfortunately that's the real Randy Waldron. That guy is my dad. He was a raving lunatic. He was a wild animal who had been cornered, and he didn't know what else to do. So he acted the only way he knows how to, and that was with his primal instincts. I mean, he was scary. He was a very, very scary man for those few minutes."
In the middle of the tirade, Waldron Jr. heard something very important. It wasn't an apology, but an admission.
"He said, 'Yeah, I did it.' And that's all I really wanted," the son said, speaking of his father. "You know the apology comes secondary. Just acknowledge that you did it. Let me take your acknowledgement and show it to the world that told me I was not telling the truth. Here you are. For the people who are watching: He did it. He admitted it! And I've been telling you that story for 10 years and I've not been believed."
As Waldron Jr. drove away, Waldron Sr. told the son he had taken advantage of for nearly two decades that he loved him.
Waldron Jr. said, "To say that I'm angry is a complete understatement. I cannot formulate into words the amount and the level of anger and absolute hatred that I have for what this man stands for and for what he's done to me as an individual. He has left me in a very bad position in life." The son said he's working on building a new life with his girlfriend, a life without a scheming father, who has delayed but not ruined his dream of flying big jets.
"I've spent 10 years of my life fixing his mess," he said. "I've spent 10 years of my life putting off my dream. And I will tell you right now, if there is one thing I will do in life, it is fly big airplanes for a big airline and have the best life I possibly can have. I'm going to do it. And he's not going to stand in my way anymore."