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Indiana man mistakenly identified as criminal, suspended from job

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Friday, April 19, 2013 - 5:21 pm

INDIANAPOLIS — Richard Brown's name got him suspended from his job as a school caregiver.

The Indiana Department of Child Services records showed three Richard Browns with criminal records, so the agency alerted Lawrence Township school officials. That prompted the district to suspend the 62-year-old Indianapolis man, who was a part-time caregiver with the Before- and After-School Care Program, The Indianapolis Star reported Friday.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, what's going on here?' I've never been arrested or in trouble my whole life," Brown said Thursday. "I know there are a lot of Richard Browns out there, but that's why we have birth dates and Social Security numbers."

Brown said he called the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, which runs background checks on day care workers, which told him he had to contact DCS. DCS told Brown that if he could prove he lived in Marion County when the other Richard Browns were breaking the law, he could get his job back.

"That's kind of hard," he said.

Finally, Brown reached Marilyn Robinson, a regional DCS director in Kokomo, who was "appalled" to hear of his situation. She contacted Kokomo police, who ran a Bureau of Motor Vehicles check that showed Brown lived in Indianapolis when the crimes were committed.

Brown returned to his part-time job Wednesday after missing four days. He doesn't know if he'll be compensated for the lost time. He's also still baffled by the mix-up.

FSSA spokeswoman Marni Lemons said Lawrence Township Schools apparently sent Brown's name without a birth date, so when his name popped up in the database, the agency informed the school day care.

"I don't know why they would send in a common name with no other information, but it happens," Lemons said. At that point, she said, either the day care or Brown had the responsibility to provide more information to the DCS.

Lemons said such mix-ups have occurred before.

"I don't think it is uncommon for people with common names to run into these issues," she said, noting the system worked "exactly as it was designed to."