PORTER COUNTY — An innocent Chesterton man was arrested by the Porter County Drug Task Force and left in jail for 10 days because he had the same first and last name as a drug suspect.
Steven M. Thompson, a service technician at Arcelor-Mittal Steel, received an “early morning visit” from the narcotics unit which was serving a drug warrant on on May 5th. He was taken from his home to the Porter County Jail, leaving his teenage daughter at home. He was accused of being a drug dealer.
Except he isn’t actually a drug dealer.
Mr. Thompson thought his name would be easily cleared, but he ended up spending 10 days behind bars. With such difficulty in correcting the error, he began to think that going to prison might be a real possibility.
Two felony charges were levied against Thompson: dealing pills and heroin. The Class B felonies each carry a 6-20 year prison sentence.
Although the man arrested matched the warrant — down to the date of birth and middle initial — the information in the warrant had been incorrectly obtained. The intended suspect was Steven P. Thompson, who is three years younger.
Attorney Bob Harper, of Valparaiso, confirmed to the Gazette regarding the mistaken middle initials and DOB. With Harper’s help, Mr. Thompson was able to prove his innocence and be freed, but not before losing his job, racking up bills, and facing threats of eviction from his home.
Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel oversees the Porter County Drug Task Force (PCDTF), and dropped charges after it was evident that the wrong man had been arrested.