Press Release Issued Yesterday 10-13-2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CITY OF EL PASO SUED FOR IDENTITY THEFT
El Paso, Texas – The City of El Paso received notice of a multi-million dollar lawsuit today concerning the role of the City of El Paso Police Department (CEPPD) role in the identity theft of John Shelby.
The suit alleges that in November 1997, Shelby attempted to apply for a job in El Paso but was refused because of a background check showing he was at that time incarcerated in the El Paso city jail. Shelby followed up at the jail and discovered the police actually had in custody a man named Jason Newton.
Newton had given Shelby’s name when arrested by CEPPD. Newton knew of Shelby’s name through acquaintances and only gave Shelby’s name. Shelby got a letter from CEPPD for any future background checks which explained he was not Newton. But the mixup did not stop there and went deeper than Shelby could possibly know at that time.
Over twelve years later, after many failed jobs, firings, and multiple periods of homelessness, all due to failed background checks, an assistant district attorney for the El Paso District Court helped Shelby get
an expunction of the criminal charges for his record. When Shelby received the paperwork back from that process in January 2009, he found out the awful truth: CEPPD had caused the identity theft.
Shelby had been arrested in 1991 and the charges were dismissed; however, his information was still within CEPPD’s system. Newton had not given any other identifying information upon arrest except Shelby’s name. CEPPD had imported Shelby’s former Texas Driver’s License Number, Social
Security Number, date of birth, height, weight, hair color, eye color, and place of birth from dismissed 1991 arrest. CEPPD had also twice released Newton under Shelby’s name despite the fact that Newton was wanted at the time for capital murder and despite having falsely identified on the
arrest sheet that the information on Newton had been verified through both Federal Bureau of Investigation and Texas Department of Public Safety databases.
Shelby, a disabled veteran who is married with young children, demands justice. “My life and that of my family have been essentially destroyed because CEPPD did not do its job. They “filled in the blanks” with no concern that all of the information was wrong.” He continues, “I’ve not been able to
get any job that requires a background check and have been fired from multiple jobs because of CEPPD’s intentional substitution of my information onto Newton’s arrest record.”
His attorney, Stephen Casey, agrees. “CEPPD is privy to such private information that for them to flippantly fill in information that is wrong on its face is intolerable. Shelby and Newton are nearly seven years apart in age, six inches different in height, forty pounds different in weight, and have
different eye color, hair color, and so there is no way CEPPD verified Newton’s fingerprints in any way.” “Few people can relate to the decades long tragedy which John Shelby has had to endure simply
because CEPPD did not do its job,” Casey added. “I would hate to think that a dismissed arrest could result in having a faulty conviction for multiple felonies.”
Shelby’s suit seeks damages in excess of seven million dollars. The City of El Paso City Council voted to deny Shelby’s claim. Shelby still believes the city should compensate him for the tragedy it caused.
CONTACT STEPHEN CASEY AT 512-238-3117 FOR QUESTIONS