Marshals Got the Wrong Guy, Family Says

     CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CN) – Federal marshals sought to extradite a man to Mexico, arrested him at work and held his terrified family in their house because he had the misfortune of bearing the same name as a fugitive wanted in Mexico on child prostitution charges, according to a federal complaint.

     Philip Simone says the U.S. Justice Department, acting through the International Affairs Office and the U.S. Marshals Service, failed to follow the most basic protocol in complying with Mexico’s extradition order for a “Philip Anthony Simone.”
     Authorities descended on the family’s Long Island home on a Monday morning in May 2008 as his son was getting ready for school, Simone says. U.S. Marshals held his family for more than two hours, “terrifying” his wife, and arrested Simone at his Merrill Lynch office, where he had been an “exemplary employee” for 27 years. Simone said he was at work in Jersey City on the day he was supposedly committing “the loathsome crime of child prostitution.”
     Simone says he had not left the United States in 30 years and does not have a passport or criminal record. The U.S. Attorney’s Office dropped the charges the Friday after his arrest, Simone says.
     Victims in Guadalajara, identified a man from a passport photo, but the extradition note included a driver’s license photograph of the plaintiff and his Long Island address, according to the complaint.
     Drivers’ licenses are protected from disclosure by federal and state privacy rules, and Simone says his photo was never shown to the underage boys who claim they were coerced to engage in child prostitution.
     There are more than 14 Phil Simones in the New York area alone, but the plaintiffs say an easily conducted Google search identifies a convicted sex offender named Phil A. Simone whose photograph is posted on the New Jersey Department of Corrections Web site. That man, who is still at large, holds the same passport number that Mexican authorities used to obtain statements from victims, according to the complaint.The Simones seek damages from the United States of America for negligence, false arrest and malicious prosecution. They are represented by Loren Selznick with Dailey & Selznick in Manhattan

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