Woman Repeatedly Convicted of Crimes She Did Not Commit

While the little brouhaha over Scott MacMillan’s identity was reasonably funny to follow, today’s Lidové noviny has a real horror story of identity theft. The translation is mine:

Woman Lost Her ID, And Was Repeatedly Convicted of Others’ Crimes

OSTRAVA – 29-year-old Marie LeÅ¡ková from Ostrava had an ordinary thing happen to her two years ago: she lost her ID. A small nuisance, which she reported to the authorities, but for this blameless Romany mother of two, an incident that egregiously complicated her life.

In the months that followed, Marie Lešková was convicted several times for thefts she never committed. Thanks to her lawyer, the judgements were overturned, but Lešková lost her job due to the problems.

Her martyrdom was far from over, though.

Everything happened last February: Marie Lešková reported the loss of her ID, and officials issued her a new one. A couple of months later, the first envelope with a blue stripe came. The district court in Opava sent her an announcement that she received a suspended sentence for theft in a Globus hypermarket in Opava.

“I had no idea what was going on. It was a blow,” LeÅ¡ková says. The truth was revealed only when she had a personal confrontation with the theft victim. The woman who stole a wallet and mobile phone wasn’t Marie LeÅ¡ková. The thief used LeÅ¡ková’s lost ID when she was caught by police.

At that time LeÅ¡ková still worked as a housekeeper in a dormitory. “When it all started, they started to look at me strangely at work,” the sad mother of a three-year-old girl and seven-year-old boy said. Before she could go to Opava to accept the judgement but state her innocence, she got another envelope with a blue stripe, this time from Vsetín. And again, a suspended sentence for theft, this time in a Vsetín Albert store. What’s more, after the crime was revealed, LeÅ¡ková was supposed to have tried to run the theft victim over!

“I’ve never had a car, and have never sat behind the wheel,” the woman announces modestly. On the way to the court in Vsetín, a complication came: one of the theft victims gave positively identified LeÅ¡ková. The only bit of luck came when a photograph was shown of one of the policemen with the thief.

“Some people think we’re all the same: Seen one Romany, seen them all,” LeÅ¡ková said resignedly. Even the court in Vsetín pardoned her.

The story was far from over. More charges came, this time from Zlín. According to these, she was supposed to steal a demo panel of car stereos from the Zlín Sony Club with a certain Robert Dany and Rudolf Žiga. “I’ve never been in Zlín and I definitely don’t know any Dany or Žiga,” LeÅ¡ková said in defense. And if that wasn’t enough, she was convicted in Ostrava for theft in an Ostrava Kaufland.

“I told the court to request the files from Opava and Vsetín,” LeÅ¡ková’s lawyer said, adding that not only was she never in the places where she was supposed to have committed the thefts, but she was demonstrably at home with her family. Furthermore, the Romany thief was according to witnesses heavy-set with colored hair, which definitely is not the case with LeÅ¡ková.

“The person who stole Mrs. LeÅ¡ková’s ID probably changed it,” her lawyer Adámek said. “People are inventive,” he added.

Ex-Sister In Law in a Red Ford
With all certainty, the culprit was Marie LeÅ¡ková’s former sister-in-law. It was her who was at LeÅ¡ková’s for a visit last February, when the ID was lost. The sister-in-law was convicted several times in the past, and was positively identified by both the theft victim in Opava as well as the policeman in Vsetín. What’s more, she drives a red Ford Sierra, which was the one Marie LeÅ¡ková allegedly used to try to run over the theft victim.

The court in Opava issued an arrest warrant for the former sister-in-law. The courts, however, were unable to serve a summons, and the requests for the police to take over the case also ended in failure.

“It’s like a bad dream,” LeÅ¡ková said of her current situation. The courts are still not through with her. She will have to go back to Ostrava in February, and then to Zlín a couple of days later. “I’ll have to borrow the money for the trip from my mom,” planned the now-unemployed LeÅ¡ková.

“I worked as a judge for more than twenty years before becoming an attorney. I’ve never come across a similar case,” says Ivo Adámek, Marie LeÅ¡ková’s Ostrava lawyer. According to him, there will be more cases like hers and nobody can be certain that what happened to LeÅ¡ková won’t happen again.

Not long ago, the lawyer visited a client whose documents were stolen in 1999. Everything was honestly reported to the police and the case was adjourned. Now the client has a bill from a telephone company, when he hasn’t signed a contract with them. Somebody used lost or stolen IDs, and now the bills go to the original person.

Reparations in cases like these are according to Adámek possible, but only if charges can be filed against the people who took the documents. That someone would catch such a thief is probably only theoretical.

Lawyer Adámek adds that he’s glad he took the curious case of Marie LeÅ¡ková. “The evidence was there and she could have been easily legally convicted,” the Ostrava defender knows.

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