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Mistaken Identity: Jackson School Band Teacher Falsely Arrested for Crime He Never Committed

JACKSON-A Jackson School District teacher with over 32 years of experience was arrested in Lakewood Township by police officers there as he returned home from a visit to his parents’ home.  The crime?  According to the Asbury Park Press, John McCarthy was taken to the Ocean County jail, processed and lodged for three days for failing to appear in court in Burlington County to face charges of theft. There’s just one problem. McCarthy couldn’t remember being in Burlington County, let alone being charged with theft. During the ordeal, McCarthy tried desperately to convince the arresting officers and jail staff that it wasn’t him.  It’s a common argument for most anyone who gets arrested, “I didn’t do it.” or “It wasn’t me.”

This time, the man being booked was telling the truth but nobody believed him. McCarthy was put in the back of a Lakewood police cruiser, transported like a common criminal to the Ocean County Jail in Toms River and booked on a charge of failure to appear.

The problem stemmed from the Burlington County court placing McArthy’s DMV photo on an arrest warrant for another “Jon” McCarthy wanted out of that county.  After three days in jail McCarthy was released from the Ocean County jail after Burlington officials found the original mugshot for the McCarthy they were looking for.

By now, being a school teacher, the damage had been done.  McCarthy’s arrest was abuzz in his school district.  He said his students were sharing his mugshot and his arrest was broadcast on social media. When McCarthy was booked in the Ocean County Jail, his fingerprints were not on file.  His attorney said that’s a clear sign that he was never booked in Burlington County prior. Instead of catching the error, prison guards traded his civilian clothes for prison clothes. Now McCarthy is considering filing a lawsuit for false imprisonment.  He had to meet with the district superintendent to be allowed back to his teaching job after his arrest. McCarthy teaches 7th and 8th grade band at Goetz Middle School. He’s been a teacher in the Jackson School District for over 30 years.

Read the full story at the Asbury Park Press.

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