A Panama City woman was recently jailed for a crime she didn't commit. To add insult to injury, she was told she'd have to pay to have the arrest removed from her record. There are hundreds of movies and books about mistaken identity, but Tiffany Hewett lived the story for real last month.
"I am not a thief, I am not a thief and for that to be made public for everybody around town to see that,” said Tiffany, “that really upsets me. I would never, never do that."
Tiffany Hewett's problems began January 31st when Bay County Sheriff's investigators came to her home and arrested her for stealing a check, forging it, then cashing it for $500. Hewett spent the night in jail, but the next day sheriff's officials released her, saying they'd made a mistake: someone else named Tiffany Hewett had committed the crime.
" I lost my job in December and then we lost our house, and my car, and then this happened, and now I feel like I can't even go get a job anywhere, because I don't want them to do a search and maybe find something."
When Hewett tried to have the charges removed from her record, court officials told her she'd have to pay to have it expunged. Friday, Bay County Sheriff's officials say there was definitely a human error and they've made some changes to make sure it doesn't happen again.
"This is an isolated incident, but it happened because of failure to do a diligent investigation,” said Capt. Jimmie Stanford of the Criminal Investigations Division. “For awhile, every arrest warrant has got to be approved by a supervisor."
The investigator handling the case was disciplined and the sheriff's office has removed the charges from Hewett's record, for free.