Woman Mistakenly Arrested After Identity Stolen

A South Jersey wife and mother was mistakenly hauled away by police because someone else used her good name.

Most people assume if you don't do the crime, you won't do the time. But what if someone does the crime and tells police they are you. They give your name, your birth date and next thing you know you're in handcuffs.

Donna Judson is a law-abiding wife, mother of three and part-time gymnastics teacher but to police Judson was wanted for prostitution, attempting to buy drugs and had a record of assorted minor crimes.

Asked if she had ever been arrested before, Judson said, "Never."

On Jan. 7, she said she just dropped off her youngest child in Haddonfield, N. J., when she was stopped by police for a minor traffic violation.

"They shackled me to the bench like I was some big criminal," Judson said. "It was pretty shocking, pretty humiliating."

Camden City police had two warrants for the arrest of Donna Judson.

"I pleaded with the guy. I was like look she's not going to last a second in Camden County Jail," Judson's husband said. 

Judson's husband said he had to convince police they had the wrong person and said he had a hard time doing it.

The chief of Haddonfield Police Department said they were just doing their job and the mix-up started with Camden police.

"You wouldn't want to charge anyone without identifying them," the police chief said.

But the warrants and citations NBC 10 examined showed that's exactly what Camden police did and it wasn't just Camden police. In Woodbury, police gave the imposter Donna Judson a ticket from an accident and even noted she didn't have proper documentation. 

"I think they were pretty careless. My address was wrong, ZIP code was wrong and everything was wrong and they still took her word for it," Judson said.

The Judsons called state Assemblyman Paul Moriarty for help.

"I think it's outrageous what happened to this woman. This should never happen to anyone. When you pull someone over and they say, 'My name's John Doe' you better be sure it's John Doe," Moriarty said.

"I understand this happens more than you would think, because people that are wanted by the law by nature don't carry ID on them because if they are stopped they don't want to prove who they are because they'll be taken in to jail," Moriarty said.

When Green Bay, Wis., police noticed an increase in people lying about their identity, they started to fingerprint anyone who gets a citation or traffic ticket. Some people question whether they're violating people's rights but the Judson's said they need someone to protect their rights.

"It's been a nightmare," Judson said.

"This could affect our credit, any job she goes after," Judson's husband said.

In this case, it turns out a relative of Judson's has been using her identity and has been arrested. But police said anyone who steals your wallet or has your basic information could use your good name when they do something bad.

"Nobody's safe, it could happen to anybody," Judson said.

As a result of this story Moriarty has proposed a state law that would give police specific guidelines on identifying people to help make sure innocent people don't get arrested.

Camden police said they are doing an internal investigation to see how Judson could have been arrested.

For more information on spoofing and how to protect yourself, here are some links:

  • FCC Consumer Facts
  • Electronic Privacy Information Center
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