Jose Delacruz who is a deli worker in the Bronx has been arrested four times by NYPD cops because not only does he have the same name as "El Toro", a famous drug dealer, now deported, but the two also share the same birth date.
Jose Delacruz, the father of two, says he has been arrested after routine traffic stops and background checks, and adds he was roughed up by disbelieving cops and accused of crimes he never committed. The New York Daily News reports that the 50-year old Delacruz has notified the city that he will sue the police department for $1 million over the mix-ups. And he says his whole life is a nightmare because of them.
"No matter what I do, they always think I'm him. It's a terrible way to live. I'm scared all the time."
To avoid further arrests, the soft-spoken Delacruz carries around with him a certified court document explaining he is not El Toro, who is wanted in the US on a 1999 cocaine possession case. Delacruz also recently shaved his mustache off to try to look less like his wanted counterpart. But he's not sure what it will take.
"My daughters think I must be guilty of something because this keeps happening, I just want to clear my name."
The real criminal Jose Delacruz did a year-long prison stretch in New York on an 1986 drug rap, and was recently deported to the Dominican Republic.
and he wound up being locked up in The Tombs for four days before federal agents determined they had the wrong man. The Manhattan judge, Charles Solomon, who handled his case was astounded and asked the prosecutors,
"You mean the person who's in front of me is not the person who's wanted in this indictment? It certainly doesn't look like him, even with the passage of time."
In that case he was cleared of wrongdoing, then while vacationing in Orlando, he was arrested again.
Delacruz says he's been struggling to find a better job where he won't be hounded so much. But he's not having an easy time of it, specifically because of his name. The Taxi and Limousine Commission refused to let him be a driver, believing he was a wanted criminal.
His civil lawyer, Elliot Kay, said there's no excuse for the arrests.
"It's obvious the police simply did not care that they were arresting the wrong person. They chose to ignore he fact that Mr. Delacruz does not look like the fugitive, his fingerprints do not match the fugitive's and he had a letter from the court confirming that he's not the fugitive."