INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A man working to get his life on track said it nearly derailed after someone else used his identity during an arrest, and despite suspicions, managed to bond out of jail and take off.
This is a case of two men: both using the name David Asa.
CBS4 Problem Solvers spoke to the real David Asa, an Indianapolis man in his 30's who has a criminal record, but who has stayed out of jail since 2012 and said he's been trying to turn his life around.
It's Asa's mother who first alerted him to the other supposed "David Asa," a man who had been booked into the Marion County Jail on May 15 and charged with possessing methamphetamine, marijuana, and a syringe.
"She regularly goes onto the My Case website," Asa said. "...she runs me and my siblings (through the search function), just to see if we're in trouble."
Asa said the discovery of the charges under his name prompted him to go on a wild goose chase, calling every office he could think of and even going down to the city-county building to try to find someone in person.
"I can't tell you how many hours of sleep I lost over this," Asa said.
Despite his efforts, Asa said he could not find anyone to point him in the right direction.
"I saw that he had an initial hearing a few days later, so I showed up for that," Asa said. "I talked to the prosecutor before court even started and he took my ID and phone number, and sent me down to the basement to get fingerprinted."
After being fingerprinted, Asa received a piece of paper that he was told to carry on his person. The paper notes that he and the person charged under his name are "not one and the same individual."
Yet, CBS4 Problem Solvers pulled court records and found that while Asa was receiving that paper, a much different situation was playing out inside the courtroom. According to records and paperwork, the fake David Asa appeared for his initial hearing. Having already set bond at $500, the court allowed him to sign a pre-trial release form under the fake name, saying he would self-report to probation and undergo drug and alcohol monitoring.
Within two days, the man's real identity had been revealed, and a warrant had been issued for his arrest after he didn't show up to another court date.
Inmate's true identity revealed, week after initial suspicions
The real name of the man booked into jail on May 15 is Anthony Brehm.
Brehm has a history of theft and drug charges in Hendricks, Marion, and Morgan counties over the past few years. Records show a warrant issued for his arrest in Morgan County in February, which was still on file at the time of his arrest May 15.
According to court paperwork, two Marion County Sheriff's Deputies arrested Brehm while they were out to serve a warrant on a different man. The deputies said Brehm did not have identification at the time of his arrest, and gave the name David Asa, along with the correct date of birth.
CBS4 Problem Solvers found out that despite jail staff figuring out Brehm's real name right away, he was allowed to continue through the system under the fake name for nearly a week.
"During processing into the Marion County jail, David Asa was confirmed by IMPD identification through fingerprints, as Anthony Brehm," a detective wrote in a piece of court paperwork filed on May 24. "Anthony Brehm was arrested under the alias of 'David Asa.'"
It's unclear why Asa's name was used from that point forward, but it allowed Brehm to get out of jail.
After Brehm did not show up to his next hearing, prosecutors finally dismissed the charges under Asa's name and refiled them under Brehm's name, including a new charge of identity deception. On May 29, Marion County also issued an arrest warrant for Brehm.
Paper trail remains on file and easily accessible
The real David Asa told CBS4 Problem Solvers he believes this entire ordeal traces back to this past winter, when he dropped his wallet in a grocery store parking lot. By the time he realized it, the wallet had disappeared.
"All the guy needs is your name and birthday and ... you're screwed," Asa said. "It's ridiculous. The whole situation is ridiculous."
Prosecutors did dismiss the charges against him and recalled the original arrest warrant, but on the My Case website, the entire case remains on file and Asa said he's concerned about what that means for his future.
"I was specifically told, 'Just try to explain what happened.' Well, what says they’re going got believe me?" Asa said.
Asa said he was told that he would have to hire a lawyer to get the record expunged, which he cannot afford. CBS4 Problem Solvers requested more information about the process from the Marion County Prosecutor's Office.
In the meantime, Asa wants to know what happened to allow his name to be used for so long, despite fingerprints pointing to Brehm's real identity. The Prosecutor's Office and IMPD both pointed CBS4 to the Marion County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) for an answer.
An MCSO spokesperson sent CBS4 this statement:
"The process to ensure the proper identification of arrestees is quite complicated and involves multiple criminal justice agencies in Marion County. The Sheriff’s Office consistently works to improve its identification protocol, including soon-to-be implemented iris scanners at the Marion County Jail. Iris recognition is an automated method of biometric identification. The MCSO plans to address identification issues at the June 11th, 2018, meeting of the Criminal Justice Planning Council (CJPC). The CJPC is comprised of the Marion County Sheriff, the Marion County Prosecutor, the Marion County Clerk, the Public Defender, the City Controller, the Courts, and members of the City-County Council. Its purpose is to study, forecast, and make recommendations regarding the needs of law enforcement and the criminal justice system."
CBS4 Problem Solvers will continue to dig into Asa's case, while he goes back to his life and hopes this won't come back to haunt him.
"I've been working hard and I've been doing what I need to do, and apparently it doesn't matter. ... At least, that's what it felt like," Asa said.
If you have a case you'd like CBS4 Problem Solvers to consider, contact us at 317-677-1544 or ProblemSolvers@cbs4indy.com.