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Tampa may pay for false arrest over 'fake' Super Bowl tickets

A case of false arrest in Tampa in 2009 has city officials hoping settle a lawsuit filed by the arrested couple. The city has offered a $65,000 settlement to a 28-year-old woman, along with her husband, was in town scalping tickets to the Super Bowl early in 2009. Scalping tickets, or reselling tickets for above their face value, is legal in Florida, but a machine used by police to check tickets to see if they were valid mistakenly said the tickets the woman's husband was selling were counterfeit.

According to news reports, the arrested couple are professional ticket brokers who travel to major sporting events who buy tickets from people and resell them on the street at a profit. They were in Tampa for Super Bowl XLIII. The day of the game, an acquaintance sold the husband a set of four tickets near the field for $6,000. The husband then found three fans who were interested in buying them.

He and his wife drove them close to the stadium. As the wife waited inside the car, the husband and the men negotiated a price. The men were not able to raise as much cash as the husband was asking for.

As the men haggled, a police officer on bike patrol decided the scene "looked like a drug deal." He grabbed the tickets and took them to another officer who was using a scanner that supposedly could detect security features in the tickets meant to thwart counterfeiters. Though the tickets later turned out to be legitimate, the scanner failed to read them properly and the bicycle officer arrested both spouses.

Charges were later dropped and the couple sued for false arrest. The court dismissed most of the husband's claims but upheld those made by the wife. As of Dec. 18, the wife has yet to accept the city's settlement offer.

Besides inconvenience, being falsely arrested could cost you your reputation and your job if you are forced to miss work. Having a defense attorney to contest the government's claims can cause charges to be dropped in those cases.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, "Tampa could pay $65,000 on false arrest claim stemming from Super Bowl ticket-scalping," Richard Danielson, Dec. 18, 2012

  • Our law firm provides criminal defense for people facing a range of charges. Please visit our Tampa criminal defense page to learn more.

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