Gary Alan Irving, a convicted serial rapist who eluded Massachusetts authorities for 34 years and lived a quiet family life in Gorham before he was captured last year, pleaded guilty Thursday to federal charges related to his years on the lam.

Irving, 53, already serving a sentence of up to 40 years in Massachusetts for raping three girls in the summer of 1978, was offered no plea agreement to the charges brought against him late last year in U.S. District Court in Portland. He voluntarily reversed his prior not guilty pleas to two of the three charges against him.

Before Judge George Singal accepted Irving’s guilty pleas to charges of being a fugitive in possession of firearms and aggravated identity theft, he warned Irving that he could sentence him more severely than any sentence recommended by his attorney, J. Hilary Billings. The firearms charge has a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000. The identity theft count carries a minimum mandatory sentence of two additional years beyond that, plus up to $250,000 more.

“I will not permit you to take back your pleas of guilty. Do you understand?” Singal asked Irving, who stood beside Billings of the Federal Defender’s Office.

“I understand,” Irving replied in a clear voice. He stood straight, dressed in a tan prison uniform, as members of his family listened in silence from the back of the courtroom.

The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Darcie McElwee, said that although she offered Irving no terms in exchange for his guilty pleas, she would consider dismissing a third count of Social Security fraud at Irving’s sentencing June 30. That charge is punishable by up to five years in prison and $250,000.

The federal charges against Irving stem from his escape to Maine from Rockland, Mass., in 1979, after a jury convicted him of the three rapes he committed when he was 17. In an act of leniency, a Massachusetts judge had released Irving to his parents’ custody before he was scheduled to be sentenced. Instead, Irving vanished.

Irving lived as a free man in Gorham for years without being detected under his brother’s name, Gregory Irving, and as Gregg Irving. He married, had two children and obtained and repeatedly renewed his Maine driver’s license, all while Massachusetts continued to list him as one of its most wanted fugitives.

Irving was sentenced last year to up to 40 years for the rapes. He had been serving his sentence at North Central Correctional Institute in Gardner, Mass., before being brought back to Maine to face the federal charges. He remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

In the 1978 crimes, Irving surprised his female victims, all of whom were walking or riding a bicycle, and forced them into secluded areas or into his car, where he raped them at knife point.

The victims identified Irving from his yearbook photo and a graduation tassel in his high school’s colors that hung from his car’s rearview mirror.

For years after Irving’s disappearance, police in Massachusetts sought clues about his whereabouts. He became one of the commonwealth’s most sought-after fugitives and his case was featured numerous times on nationally syndicated television shows such as “America’s Most Wanted” and “Unsolved Mysteries.”

When police finally arrested Irving last March, they found numerous guns in his house, which he was forbidden to have as a convicted felon.

Authorities found four rifles, four shotguns and a revolver at his house at 151 South St. Before Irving changed his plea, however, Billings asked to clarify the record that only five of those guns belonged to Irving. The other four guns, which Billings acknowledged were kept at Irving’s house, belong to Irving’s son.

Scott Dolan can be reached at 791-6304 or at:

sdolan@pressherald.com

Twitter: @scottddolan