Cape Coral man suing Lee County Sheriff’s Office after typo leads to wrongful arrest
An innocent Lee County man is suing the Lee County Sheriff’s Office over a typo that led to his wrongful arrest.
Carlos Javier Lobos, 44, was arrested in 2018 and accused of child molestation. His lawyer says shortly after the false arrest, the sheriff’s office administratively expunged all records of it.
While he was cleared of the crime after the detective realized the mistake, Lobos believes his name has been tainted after he was arrested in front of his family. Now, Lobos is fighting back.
Lobos was arrested two years ago in his Cape Coral home by a U.S. Marshals task force, who should have been searching for Carlos Alberto Lobo, 34.
“They arrested me in front of my wife and kids and, she was asking what, why, what was going on. And one of them told them it was because supposedly I was a child molester,” Lobos told WINK News.
But the warrant was wrong.
“All I want to do is clear my name,” he said.
Within days of Lobos’ arrest, WINK News put in a public record request for documents. WINK found the warrant detailing the timeline of events leading from the initial complaint to the wrong guy’s arrest and release.
In July of 2018, the Department of Children and Families reported a case of sexual abuse to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
In Aug. 2018, Special Victims Unit Det. Chris Meyer, of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, interviewed the family who said the suspect was an uncle, Carlos Lobo, who lives in Lehigh Acres. The family gave Lobo’s phone number to Meyer and said the suspect might have gone to Indiana or Miami. Meyer called the suspect and asked to interview him but Lobo hung up.
In December 2018, a judge signed off on the warrant that has Carlos Lobos’ name on it instead of Carlos Lobo. A week later, Lobos is in handcuffs.
WINK News found the detective’s interview with Lobos is riddled with confusion.
“Did she say my name? Like, my name?” Lobos asked the detective. “Because I don’t know that person.”
The detective asked Lobos if he knows who his accusers are.
“No idea,” he said.
Lobos said the phone number the detective called was not his own.
“You didn’t talk to me, sir,” he said.
By then, Lobos said he thought the detective could tell the details didn’t match up. Lobos said he has never lived in Lehigh Acres and has no family living there. The detective asked if Lobos was a common name. Lobos said his first name was, but his last name was not common.
“I thought that they were just gonna let me go home. But that wasn’t the case,” Lobos told WINK News.
Lobos says he was stripped and thrown in a jail cell for hours. Documents show the detective brought Lobos’s photo to the family. They told the detective he had the wrong guy.
The detective ordered Lobos’ immediate release.
“They said that the officer called and said, you know, he made a mistake and to let me go,” Lobos said.
Lobos never received an apology.
Days after Lobos’ arrest, the judge signed a new warrant and the right man, Carlos Alberto Lobo was arrested. But the damage was already done.
“His friends wouldn’t talk to him anymore,” said Terry Cramer, the lawyer representing Lobos. “His family didn’t know what to think. And it was a mistaken identity.”
Cramer said Lobos’s reputation as a family man and a hard-working business owner is still at stake.
“Carlos doesn’t have any hard feelings,” Cramer said. “He’s an ordinary guy, and just wants to clear his name. He wants to move on with his life.”
Lobos doesn’t know how the mistake was made. He said the detective would have to answer to that.
WINK News asked the Lee County Sheriff’s Office for an interview to see if anything has changed to avoid making the same mistake, but they said they don’t comment on pending litigation.
They also haven’t responded to the lawsuit.
Carlos Alberto Lobo is due in court later this month on the charges against him. His attorney declined to comment.