Fort Smith woman who was falsely arrested says someone owes her an apology..and thousands of dollars
A case of mistaken identity, coupled with the inability of local and state law enforcement officials to coordinate their business, recently turned into an expensive and a harrowing experience for a 39-year-old Fort Smith woman.
Lacey Elizabeth Anderson, who had taken her teenage daughter to the Arkansas State Police Troop H headquarters on Kelly Highway for a driver's test, found herself arrested, booked, and accused of felony drug charges she had absolutely nothing to do with.
After losing $1,000 to a local bail bonds company and spending $3,000 on attorney fees to straighten out the matter, Anderson says there hasn't been so much as a peep from any of the agencies involved over what is basically tantamount to false arrest.
“I had taken my daughter out to the State Police headquarters for her to take her driving test”, said Anderson. “I had to give them my ID, and when they ran it I could see that something had come up on their screen. The next thing I knew, I was under arrest and being interrogated for felony drug charges”
The arrest occurred August 29 at around 11:30 a.m.
Based upon the information in the system, and the mistaken identity, Anderson was arrested and taken to the Sebastian County Detention Center where she was booked on one felony charge of Delivery of Methamphetamine or Cocaine. Her bond was set at $10,000, which accounts for the $1,000 she had to pay the bail bond company just to get out of jail in the first place.
Anderson readily admits that in 2017 there was an incident in which she was arrested on drug charges. She attended and completed drug court and those charges were later sealed. She feels like that arrest, coupled with the failure of the communications between different branches of government, is what resulted in her August arrest.
That arrest, and the resulting fallout, has been a nightmare for the Fort Smith woman and her family.
Anderson said while she was awaiting transport to the Cebastian County Adult Detention Center she was able to call her husband who had just made it to New Mexico on a work assignment.
Anderson's daughter told her later that one of the troopers repeatedly said “she knows what she did” to the point that her own daughter was starting to believe she had actually committed the crime.
“I also have a 3-year-old that was in preschool”, said Anderson. “I was having major panic attacks and anxiety and by nighttime I just wanted to die.”
“I didn't want to eat or drink, and I witnessed a fight while in jail”, said Anderson. “I'm uber sensitive to violence and I felt like my kids should never have to be without me. The way the police and everyone was talking and acting I thought I was going to be going to prison.”
Anderson when she arrived and was taken to interrogation a male officer in plain clothes asked her if she remembered him. When she said “no” the officer responded that Anderson had sold him drugs during an undercover operation.
“I told him I'd never seen him in my life and begged him to let me go”, said Anderson.
It actually took them 13 hours to book her into jail. She was released about 10:30 a.m. the next morning after paying the bail bondsman $1,000 on the $10,000 legally sufficient bond.
She said she was told she had her first hearing on the matter the next morning in Sebastian County Circuit Court. Bailiffs did not come and get her and escort her to jail the next morning. Her family tried to go and attend the presumed court session and was also unable to get any information.
Upon her release she went to see a local attorney who basically told her that “her verbiage” made him think she was guilty. So she talked to another attorney out of Fayetteville and he was able to unravel the situation.
On February 14th, 2023 an undercover officer arrived at the Red Roof Inn in Fort Smith around 7:42 p.m. The purpose of the operation was for the undercover team to buy 9 grams of methamphetamine for $200 from a Corey and Lacey Anderson, a married couple residing at the motel.
On April 11th, a warrant for the other Lacey Anderson was supposedly issued mistakenly listing the wrong address and birth date of the suspect.
“Guess who's address and birthday was listed on the warrant?” said the innocent Lacey Anderson
Ironically, Anderson's is married and kept her maiden name after the marriage. Once again, her first lawyer thought she was Lacey Anderson and her husband was Corey Anderson.
Once she was able to hook up with a competent attorney, Jared Medlock of Fort Smith, the entire fiasco started to become clear.
After Anderson was able to provide an airtight alibi for the date in question when the undercover drug sale went down, she was told by Medlock that she didn't even have to show up for the rescheduled hearing. But not before Medlock went to the Sebastian County prosecutor's office of Daniel Shue and was told that the officers had arrested the right person.
Medlock ask for 20 minutes with the prosecutors, laid out all of his evidence, and finally someone in that office had the sense to make a few phone calls and check things out. At 1:15 that same afternoon, all charges against Lacey Anderson (at last the innocent Lacey Anderson) were dismissed.
“No one has apologized, and my bail guy just laughed when I asked if they would reimburse me”, said Anderson “I paid $3,000 to a lawyer, my husband missed 2 weeks of work in New Mexico, and we are out over $15,000 because of this situation”.
“Not a single person from the Fort Smith police department, the sheriff's office, the DEA, or the prosecuting attorney's office has done anything to make this right,” Anderson continued.
Records from the Sebastian County Adult Detention Center show Corey Anderson was arrested on September 1st and charged with a number of crimes, including delivery of methamphetamine or cocaine that happened on April 11th 2023. (The same date of the crimes the innocent Lacey Anderson was arrested for.) It was far from the first time that Anderson had been arrested.
He remains behind bars in the SCADC on a $11,000 bond hold.
A Sebastian County warrant still exist for the Lacey Anderson who is married to Cory Anderson. That warrant was the one that landed the innocent Lacey Anderson in jail.
The legit Lacey Anderson says that in addition to all the financial setbacks the situation has caused, she also had to contend with the embarrassment the false arrest has generated.
You guys (Today in Fort Smith) ran my mugshot and several of my daughter's friends saw it and commented to her about it,” said Anderson. In addition if you go to Sebastian County inmate information search, the details of the false arrests and my mugshot are still posted even through all the charge were dismissed.”
Anderson's booking information and mugshot is still populated on the Sebastian County Detention Center website as of 6 p.m. Sunday, September 24.
(Note: As soon as the staff and management at Today in Fort Smith were made aware of the misidentification of Ms. Anderson and w're given documentation of her innocence, we immediately removed her mugshot from our website. You would think the Sebastian County sheriff's office would do the same.)
“The whole thing has been a nightmare,” said Lacey Anderson. “And other than you guys, no one else seems to care or does it seem to matter to anyone else. We appreciate the opportunity to clear things up but feel like someone, somewhere owes us an apology.”