- Associated Press - Thursday, May 7, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - An Omaha mother wants Douglas County to pay her $100,000 for her mistaken arrest last year after she said deputies wrongly assumed she was another woman wanted for suspected child abuse.

Maria C. Vargas-Bautista, who was jailed for four days in May 2014, told the Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/1KlaoI2 ) on Tuesday that was never read her constitutional rights nor did deputies ask her for identification when taking her into custody. Her fingerprints were taken twice before she later was released from the jail without explanation, she said.

Vargas-Bautista’s attorney filed a tort claim last week, detailing her arrest. The deputies believed Vargas-Bautista to be is Maria L. Vargas, who was arrested in 2005 after giving birth at home and hiding the newborn in a closet.

The then 18-year-old Vargas was taken to a hospital where doctors determined she had recently given birth, though she had denied it. Police rushed to her home and found the baby oxygen-starved but alive. Vargas was booked on suspicion of felony child abuse.

Court records show she failed to appear for a pretrial hearing and in 2006, a judge issued a warrant for her arrest. She is still a fugitive.

Both women are from Guatemala and are near in age. Vargas-Bautista said she had tried to tell deputies that they had the wrong person, but they still arrested her.

Chief Deputy Sheriff Tom Wheeler declined to comment on Vargas-Bautista’s arrest because of the pending claim. Messages seeking comment from the Douglas County Corrections director were left by the newspaper.


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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