Falsely accused man spends 10 days behind bars

2014-06-03T15:00:00Z 2014-06-04T11:16:53Z Falsely accused man spends 10 days behind barsBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | Steven Thompson was at his Chesterton home during the early morning hours of May 5 with his teenage daughter when police made a surprise visit and took him into custody for drug-dealing crimes he did not commit.

He went along figuring all would be cleared up once they reached the jail, but he was wrong and Thompson spent the next 10 days behind bars, lost his job of six years and faced eviction until deciding to hire defense attorney Bob Harper.

"If this keeps going the wrong way, I'm going to do six to 20 years for nothing," he thought to himself.

Harper said he was able to secure a reduced bond that allowed Thompson to leave jail while his law firm researched the facts of the case and identified the correct suspect. The correct suspect has the same first and last names, but is three years younger than Thompson.

While Thompson does not believe he looks like the suspect in a surveillance video, Harper and others said there is some resemblance.

Porter County Drug Task Force Coordinator Bob Taylor said he jumped to action right away after the situation was brought to his attention Monday.

"It was definitely a mistake on our part," he said.

Taylor said Thompson was identified by the informant and the two men look alike. Once it was shown they had the wrong man, Taylor said he apologized to Thompson and called his employer winning him his job back.

"I feel horrible about it," Taylor said.

Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel said his office Tuesday dismissed the two Class B felony counts of dealing heroin and pills against Thompson.

Officials are reportedly in the process of tracking down the right man.

Taylor said while the task force did not err in its procedures before making the arrest, there is room for more research.

"We're just going to have to dig deeper and deeper," he said.

Thompson said he plans to talk to an attorney in hopes of recovering lost wages, a $200 phone bill from the jail, legal fees and other expenses resulting from the county's error.

"I want what I lost," he said.

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