Sheriff pledges changes after stolen identity leads to false drug charge


MARION COUNTY, Ind. – A man trying to get a minor teenage arrest charge off his record found out he had more serious charges on his records. Charges that he never committed.

When David Shirrell hired an attorney to expunge his record of a minor teenage arrest charge so he could get a gun permit, he didn’t expect the lawyer to tell him about additional charges.

“He found a case that happened on August 1st of 2020 for possession of methamphetamine, possession of a syringe and possession of paraphernalia.”

David told me he wasn’t arrested for possession of meth on August 1st.

“It was my brother Joshua.”

David is 5’8” 265 pounds.

Joshua is 5’10” 140 pounds.

The brothers don’t even look alike, but the Marion County Jail staff wouldn’t know that because if an arrestee goes to Eskenazi Hospital and is then released on bond and never makes it to jail, no mugshot is taken.

Joshua told his brother his thumbprint was taken which should have matched his extensive arrest record.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office the following explanation to CBS4.

Upon learning of the false identification, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office initiated communications with the Marion County Identity Team. The MC Identity Team includes representatives from all Marion County criminal justice stakeholders. Each stakeholder must make the needed corrections to their respective databases. The MCSO has corrected its records to reflect that Joshua Shirrell was arrested on August 1, 2020. Additionally, the MCSO plans to add a section to its website that enables any person who believes they are a victim of stolen identity to reach representatives of the Marion County Identity Team directly.

 “First I called the jail to figure out what I can do to get this situated because it wasn’t me,” said David, “and I got ahold of somebody at the jail and she basically told me I would just have to ride this out and take the charges and I’m like, ‘No way, there’s no way I’m taking these charges for something I didn’t do.’”

Shirrell said another jail employee told him to hire an attorney.

Instead, the innocent man attempted to call the Marion County Prosecutors Office and the Marion County Identity Team, but no one answered the phone.

“Then my wife called the news and got ahold of you and you slowly figured this thing out.”

“I’m not surprised at all,” said Attorney Richard Waples. “It’s often the case in a big system that people can get lost in the tracks.”

Waples knows well the shortcomings of the Marion County Jail as he has been locked in a five-year-long federal lawsuit with the Sheriff’s Office over a faulty computerized offender tracking system that has chronically resulted in the over detention of inmates hours and days past their ordered time of release from custody by the courts that was installed during the regime of previous Sheriff John Layton.

“The Sheriff adopted a computer system that’s wholly inadequate for the purpose of timely release of prisoners and the compliance of court orders for the release of prisoners,” said Waples, “and he did it because he got the system for free as a way to continue an inmate telephone contract.”

Waples said the Marion County Sheriff’s Office has received $11 million in fees paid by the phone service vendor which provided an off-the-shelf offender tracking system that did not mesh with the Marion Superior Court’s data base.

“Right now the vast majority of people are left to the winds of the sheriff’s department and they’re gonna be caught in the system and they’re just gonna wait for excessive periods of time and miss all kinds of opportunities on the outside when they should have been released.

“But this is a systemic problem.”

Waples estimates 18,000 arrestees since implementation of the Jail’s faulty computerized tracking system in the summer of 2014 could eventually become class action plaintiffs in a potential lawsuit settlement.

Details of the case can be found at

David Shirrell fears his brother, who has been stealing his name to get out of arrests for years, will do this again.

“He pretty much told me that, ‘Dude it was under unknown circumstances had nothing to do with you. I had to do it at that bottom.’ So, he’s admitted to me that he’s used my name.

“I don’t do anything wrong so I shouldn’t be nervous about it, so I am. I don’t want to be that person on the side of the road who’s being searched because of a false situation.

“I got stonewalled the whole time. It shouldn’t be that hard to get answers. It shouldn’t.”

CBS4 will follow up with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office to confirm David Shirrell’s record has been cleared.

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