Clay County, Fl. - A Louisiana woman plans on suing the Clay County Sheriff’s Office after she was wrongfully imprisoned.
Ashely Nicole Chiasson shares the same first and last name as a woman wanted for financial fraud and grand theft auto.
The innocent Chiasson is a 28-year-old single mother from Chalmette, LA who had never even heard of Clay County before she was extradited.
Her lawyer, Andrew Bonderud, said she lost her house as a direct consequence of being jailed.
“It’s been a very stressful, devastating experience for her,” Bonderud said.
He said his client spent nearly four weeks in the Clay County jail for grand theft auto at the beginning of the year. She was then released on her own recognizance.
She was re-arrested in May while she was in court for a hearing in her grand theft case. This time she was booked back into the Clay County jail and charged with Defrauding a Financial Institution. After another week spent in jail, Bonderud said she was released on June 6.
Bonderud told WOKV his client only had 26 cents when she was released.
“Without the support of her mother and her boyfriend…(Chiasson) says she would be broke, homeless, on the side of the road in Florida,” he said.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office admitted to the mix-up and said short-cuts were taken during the suspect identification process.
Sheriff Rick Beseler issued the following statement:
"In these cases it appears that short-cuts 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.
"The result was the wrong person was accused of crimes she didn't commit. I extend to Ashley Nicole Chiasson my sincere apology for this error. We will seek to make things right for her. An internal investigation began immediately and a full review of how proper investigative procedures were not followed is underway. Those responsible will be held accountable. New measures, safeguards and revised policies will be adopted that will prevent this from occurring again in the future."
This is the second time this year the CCSO has accused and arrested the wrong person after confusing names.