La. mother mistaken for felon forced to spend weeks in Fla. jail

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In a case of mistaken identity, a 28-year-old single mother was wrongly arrested twice by a northern Florida sheriff’s office and forced to spend weeks in jail.

Ashley Nicole Chiasson spent 28 days in jail in January when she was mistaken for another person with the same first and last names and extradited to Clay County from her home state of Louisiana, the Florida Times-Union reported.

During a status hearing last month related to the charge that was being dropped, Miss Chiasson was arrested again in a different case, and spent another week in jail.

“How can you falsely accused me of something that I didn’t do?” Miss Chiasson said Tuesday in a telephone interview with the newspaper. “How can they make the second mistake, again? … without fingerprints, without anything.”

Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler apologized to Miss Chiasson in a statement.

“In these cases it appears that shortcuts were taken by the detectives during the suspect identification process and a thorough investigation into the identity of the suspect was not completed before the warrants were obtained,” he said, the Times-Union reported. “The result was the wrong person was accused of crimes she didn’t commit.”

Miss Chiasson’s civil attorney, Andrew Bonderud, sent the Sheriff’s Office a letter of intent to sue Monday.

“Make no mistake about it, this is no longer the result of isolated misconduct,” Mr. Bonderud said, adding that the real perpetrator was in Clay County all along.

“How on Earth does that happen? It’s inexplicable,” he asked. “There is widespread practice of abuse going on.”

The Ashley O. Chiasson still being sought by authorities is several years older and about 5 inches taller than the Ashley N. Chiasson who was wrongly jailed twice, the Times-Union reported.

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