Another court hearing could be held as early as this month in the case of a San Diego man who prosecutors say became a well-known real estate technology expert after jumping bail 17 years ago and changing his identity to avoid a lengthy prison sentence on felony drug-smuggling charges.

The man–known as “T. Lynn Sites” or simply “Lynn Sites” by Dataquick and the other real estate companies who hired him to program their databases or provide them with software–was arrested at his office on Kearny Villa Road in the San Diego suburb of Kearny Mesa about a week ago.

Federal officials say the man’s real name is Mark Miller. Authorities say he has been running from the law since 1987, when his small plane crashed into the Arizona desert on a trip back from Mexico.

The plane crashed because it was overloaded with hundreds of pounds of marijuana, according to U.S. Marshal Brian Lucio.

Miller was subsequently charged with several federal drug-smuggling counts but fled before his trial could begin, Lucio said.

Today, in interviews with Lucio and others involved with the case, the pieces of Miller’s “life on the lam” and rise to real estate technology stardom started to fall into place.

When authorities arrived at the scene of Miller’s plane crash in 1987, they were surprised to find several hundred pounds of marijuana inside–a load so large that when it shifted, it apparently forced the small plane down.

Miller was subsequently charged with several felonies, including possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute it.

He fled before his case could come to trial, court documents show.

After jumping his bail on the drug charges, Marshal Lucio says, Mark Miller eventually changed his identity to “T. Lynn Sites” and established a new career as a technology expert.

He worked at several places before landing the job as chief technologist at Trustium’s offices on Kearny Villa Road. Trustium provides software, databases and other services to the real estate industry.

One of the biggest projects that “Lynn Sites” worked on was the handling of geo-mapping for La Jolla, Calif.-based real estate-services firm Dataquick. Other clients included some of the biggest names in the realty business.

The fugitive appeared to live a comfortable but low-profile life, owning homes in both the U.S. and Mexico, Marshal Lucio said.

But it all began to unravel after an informant told authorities about his possible whereabouts.

Working off the informant’s tip, U.S. marshals and investigators from other law-enforcement agencies put Miller under surveillance. They were particularly interested in his office at Trustium’s Southern California headquarters on Kearny Villa Road.

Miller, aka Lynn Sites, was arrested on July 22. If found guilty, he’ll face several more years for skipping bail in addition to his earlier drug charges.

Before his plane full of marijuana crashed, Sites was “a major supplier of narcotics in the western region of the United States,” Lucio said.

Miller has used a variety of aliases over the past several years, Lucio added, but has had no major brushes with the law under any of his assumed names.

“Here was this guy, living quietly in society, doing well in the computer business, just hoping that his past wouldn’t catch up with him,” Lucio said.

“But finally, it did.”

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