Words: Kristine Solomon
A woman from Florida has been cleared of criminal charges filed against her after her sister, who lives in Paterson, N.J., used her identity on two occasions when she was issued summonses for prostitution.
Jaclyn Humienny, who is studying to be a teacher for children with disabilities, learned of the identity theft when a background check for potential employment revealed the criminal record was in her name, according to the New York Post.
Jaclyn also received a $533 (£411) fine for failing to appear in court, along with a warning that an arrest warrant would be issued if she failed to address it. It turns out her sister, Samantha Humienny, had claimed she was Jaclyn in November 2018 as well as in 2017, when she received her first citation for prostitution.
“This will ruin my daughter’s future,” said Brian Humienny, the women’s father, to NJ Advance Media. He said that 24-year-old Samantha is a heroin addict who he and 20-year-old Jaclyn haven’t seen in years. The family moved to Florida more than a decade ago, but Samantha ran away at age 16 and returned to their hometown in New Jersey.
Earlier this week, Paterson Police Chief Troy Oswald said there was nothing the police could do about the mixup. “At this point, it’s out of our hands,” he said, according to USA Today syndicate Northjersey.com. “Only the court can dismiss the warrant and remove it from [Jaclyn’s] criminal record.”
Fortunately, that’s exactly what happened on Tuesday, when Municipal Court Judge Giuseppe Randazzo dismissed the pending criminal charges against Jaclyn. “An expungement of the charges against Jaclyn Humienny will be expedited and related fees will be waived,” said state courts spokesman Peter McAleer in a statement shared with the New York Post.
But Brian said he blames the Paterson Police Department for allowing the damaging misidentification to happen in the first place. He told the New York Post that officers should have asked for Samantha’s photo identification or fingerprinted her instead of just taking her word for it.
“Anyone could pass out a name, and that’s it,” Brian said. “I can go speeding through Paterson, and I’ll just tell them, ‘My name’s John Smith,’ and give them an address and a false date of birth, and they’ll ticket him, not me.” Jaclyn added that she called Paterson police twice to resolve the issue, and the people she spoke to hung up on her after saying, “There was nothing that they could do, and that I needed to present all the information myself and that it was basically out of their hands,” she said.
Jaclyn said the police department even had her turn in her timesheets from work to prove she had not been in Paterson at the times the citations were given — and that it still wasn’t good enough.
But Oswald told the Post that it’s possible that Samantha had presented police a false ID in her sister’s name, as ID checks are police protocol when issuing citations. If the suspect has no identification, though, officers will issue the ticket to the name given by the suspect.
Before the judge’s ruling, Police Director Jerry Speziale said there was not enough evidence to drop the charges against Jaclyn, according to NJ Advance Media, and that she would have to come to New Jersey and appear in municipal court to try to clear her name in person — but that a video conference could have also been possible.
Speziale also claims the Humienny family did not contact him until after they spoke with the media.
In an interview before the judge’s ruling, Jaclyn emphasized how damaging the false charges could be to her professional life. “I am going to school to become an educator for the deaf and hard of hearing,” she told the Post. “So every year I do get my fingerprints done and a national background check, so having a potential criminal record could literally ruin my future career as a teacher.”
Now that Jaclyn has been cleared, Brian says they are still fighting a $4,000 medial bill Jaclyn received when Samantha checked in to the emergency room at a Paterson hospital and used her sister’s identity.
Meanwhile, Speziale says police are still trying to locate Samantha.
Yahoo Lifestyle reached out to the New Jersey Municipal Court and the Humienny family for updates on the case, and we will update this story when they reply.
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