I found this story on Futility Closet here.
"In 1800, robber and housebreaker Pierre Coignard was sentenced to 14 years’ hard labor in the prison at Toulon. After five years he escaped, journeyed to Catalonia, assumed the identity of a local nobleman, won glory fighting in the Spanish ranks, entered the French army, rose to become a decorated colonel …
"… and was recognized in Paris by one of his former cellmates.
"He was tried, convicted, and returned to the same prison he had escaped 18 years earlier."
Hey, it can't be that bad. 13 years as a celebrated nobleman is a pretty good vacation from prison. Also, I think both the French and Spanish armies need to seriously update their background check procedures.