SPOKANE, Wash. It's taken several months, but the nightmare following a routine errand for a local man is finally nearing an end. The man who was wrongfully accused of identity theft says he's not only received an apology, but adds he was also told Spokane County would be covering the legal fees associated with clearing his name. 

Scott Smith says a county rep asked him to submit those costs as well as wages lost during time of this legal battle. He submitted all of the paperwork for reimbursement Monday.

It all started back in March of 2019 with an ordinary trip to the carwash. Smith says months after the errand, he was hit with two felony charges of identity theft. He didn't even know he was under investigation until a court summons was mailed to him.

"At no point was I asked questions or given an opportunity to defend myself," Smith said. "There was nothing to link me to it whatsoever."

According to court records, prosecutors said they had Smith on camera using a stolen credit card. If given the chance during the investigative process, Smith could have easily proved via his own bank statements that the card he was using was his own. 

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - Identity theft is one of the most common crimes in the country. Likely you or someone you know has been a target of this kind of
"I've never felt more alone than when I had to go through this," Smith said.

The felony charges resulted in multiple court hearings. The nature of the case against him also meant he was required to be booked into jail. He says his time in custody was brief, in and out that same day, but the trauma of the whole thing has stuck with him.

"Most humiliating thing of my life," he said.

Records show the case stemmed from a $2 charge at a Spokane Valley car wash. According to court documents, the victim's card had been used at multiple locations but only the car wash had cameras rolling.  

Based on the footage, deputies were able to run the license plate of the vehicle Smith was washing and trace it back to him. Court documents state they compared the footage to a DOL photo of Smith, confirming it was the same person. During this process, Smith says he was never contacted by the investigating officer to get his side of the story.

"The more you learn about it, the angrier you get," he said.

Smith initially thought the mailed summons was a scam, but once he contacted an attorney, he learned just how serious it was.  

Smith got the summons in October of 2019. His first appearance was set for November 6th. That same day, records confirm his attorney emailed prosecutors, letting them know he could prove Smith used his own card with bank statements he was able to show them. Records show Smith’s attorney followed up via email multiple times, again stating he had proof his client used his own card. The final email stating this was sent in January. 

At nearly the one-year mark since the actual identity theft, prosecutors finally dropped the charges.

"I was so belittled," Smith said. "I don't understand how it could go for so long without someone catching on."

Smith reached out to our Help Me Hayley about this because he wanted his story out there in hopes that if something like this ever does happen again, a more thorough investigation will happen. In the weeks after our report, Smith says he also got some relieving news from Spokane County.  

"They said they'd pay for my time off plus legal fees," he said.

And more than that, he says he got what he hoped for most. 

"I got an apology from the sheriff's office, that's what I wanted," he said. "I'd love to hear one from the prosecutor's office but I don't expect one. The Spokane County Sherriff's Office was very kind to me, and I do appreciate that."

A letter sent to Smith from SCSO states in part that the way this was handled was a 'violation of policy,' and the investigating deputy 'received the appropriately determined progressive discipline.' It went on to thank Smith for brining his concerns to SCSO's attention.