Thursday, December 4, 2008

A rare news article on how false claims often go unpunished

Treasure Valley False Crime Reports Go Unpunished

It had all the makings of a shocking crime. A Boise cab driver kidnapped driven to a remote area and attacked, then stuffed in the trunk of her cab. Mary Jo Stolle was even scraped up and bruised, sure signs of the horror she endured. But after days of intense investigation police discover what Mary Jo Stolle told them was all a lie. "They started putting the pieces of the puzzle together and over time many of the pieces in this one didn't fit," Sheriff Gary Raney.

It turns out 9-1-1 operators get lied to a lot, and that's a waste of valuable police resources on crimes that never happened; like in March at a Boise convenience store, when a woman lied about being attacked. In July, a woman falsely told police she was sexually assaulted near the intersection of Chinden and Eagle.

Other times include, an employee who made up a story about a robbery by a masked man at an Extended Stay America in Boise. Over in Nampa, a teenage girl's false claim she had been kidnapped led to a nearby school being locked down. All these crimes committed by crime liars.

"We have the potential to charge them with a crime under Idaho statue for filing a false police report," says Detective Sergeant Pat Schneider.

The law that states in black and white according to Idaho Code, that anyone who knowingly gives a false report to any officer is punishable by a fine up to one thousand dollars and/or one year in the slammer. But we couldn't find any evidence that any of these crime liars were ever charged and often they aren't.

Prosecutors and police officers say they are not always convinced that jail should be the solution. They want to dig a little deeper and they say the person behind the report may be dealing with a few issues. "What we usually find in those false reports we have people dealing with seriously mental health issues," says Ada County Prosecutor Greg Bower.

There are even some cases where lies to police have also affected the innocent. Take the case of Rose Gloria. In the summer of 2007 a girl was attacked while sleeping in her home. Gloria knew the attacker was her live-in boyfriend John Raney but convinced the teen to lie. The lie threw investigators off track and they arrested an innocent man, 21 year old Timothy Haman.

DNA evidence later cleared Haman of the crime but this came after he had already spent many weeks in jail.

The false claim by a young boy of an attempted kidnapping near Middleton put virtually every Hispanic male in a small car with 2C license plates under suspicion.

While a report of a hate crime against a gay BSU student fueled campus anger and protests, that was until it was revealed the attack was made up.

Rose Gloria was ultimately found guilty of intimidation and accessory to rape. She was sentenced to five years in prison. As for Mary Jo Stolle, investigators learned she is quite the crime liar. Police found out she had committed such crimes all over the west and up until now had gotten away with it. Even now eight months later no charges have been filed against Stolle for her latest lie. So should police and prosecutors get tougher on those who lie about crimes? "In the end we know that it was a false report but at the same time we are very careful about why was this reported falsely," Schneider says.