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Identity theft puts victim under arrest by mistake

The Associated Press

        TIPP CITY, Ohio — David E. Bartlett says his driver's license has been mistakenly suspended three times and he's been audited and denied auto insurance, all because someone stole his identity.

        This week he was handcuffed and jailed by police who were looking for a man who had not shown up in court.

        “He really needs help, that guy. It needs to be straightened out,” police Sgt. Ron Re said. “You think this could never happen, but this is a good example of how it can happen.”

        Mr. Bartlett, 40, was arrested Wednesday after police erroneously concluded that he was wanted on a warrant for failing to appear in a Champaign County court. Mr. Bartlett said police ignored his explanations that a man from the Urbana area had been using his name, birth date and Social Security number.

        Police Chief Tom Davidson said his officers tried to confirm Mr. Bartlett's identity by calling Champaign County authorities. Physical descriptions of the suspect sounded similar enough to go through with the arrest, Chief Davidson said.

        Mr. Bartlett, who lives in this city 13 miles north of Dayton, was released after the county faxed a picture of the man police were seeking.

        The driver's license suspensions were deleted when Mr. Bartlett sued the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles in 1996.

        The man using Mr. Bartlett's Social Security number has many traffic violations, while Mr. Bartlett has none, said Julie Erhart of the BMV.

        “This guy literally stole his identity,” said Troy lawyer Jose Lopez, who represented Mr. Bartlett in 1996. “There is no question. It's not a mistake.”

        Mr. Lopez said the other man was ordered into court during that case but didn't appear.

        Social Security and FBI officials advised Mr. Bartlett to simply change his number, said Mike Sommers, press secretary for Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, who has been helping since 1996.

        But Mr. Bartlett said he is skeptical that would solve the problem.

        “Unfortunately, the victim is the one the burden is placed upon,” Mr. Sommers said.

        Mr. Bartlett said he has repeatedly asked for help from government and law enforcement, but no one has followed through by prosecuting his tormentor or otherwise resolving the problem.

        “I understand it to be a mistake, but for nobody to do anything about it, this is way past ridiculous,” Mr. Bartlett said.

Cincinnati Enquirer
August 19, 2000

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