Porter Co., Ind., woman says tattoo led to arrest for drug deal she wasn't at

PORTER COUNTY, Ind. (WLS) -- An Indiana woman said police accused her of being present at a drug deal that she said she was never at, and the only evidence authorities had against her was a tattoo on her leg. She was arrested in her own home as a result of the mix-up, embarrassed in front of family and neighbors.

"My heart sank. I was having a panic attack. I couldn't breathe," Beverly Sneed recalled. "A big mix-up. A big mystery. I'm still in awe. I mean, I have no idea what's going on."

Sneed said she was wrongly accused of "visiting a common nuisance," which is a misdemeanor charge for allegedly being present at a $40 heroin deal in 2010. Investigators from the Porter County Sheriff's Office claimed that she was in the room, sitting on a chair.

"All from a tattoo on my leg," she said. "That's all they're going from."

Sneed said the similarly-positioned tattoo is the only thing she shares in common with the real suspect.

ABC7 Chicago isn't showing the other woman's face because she hasn't been charged. Sneed argued that the woman in the undercover police video from almost 10 years ago looks much older than her.

Sneed said she did receive a call nine years ago from a detective asking questions about that video, but she thought the case didn't progress until she was arrested in March on a warrant from the Porter County Sheriff's Office.

"I told them, 'I don't know what you're talking about,'" Sneed said. "I'm like, 'It wasn't me. I don't have a clue why I'm even here.'"

After her arrest Sneed was released on a $400 bond. Her attorney later obtained the undercover video evidence showing that suspect.

After the I-Team contacted Sneed's defense attorney, she finally saw some hope.

"I got the call three hours later telling me everything was dismissed," Sneed said.

The I-Team obtained the motion to dismiss documents filed by prosecutors. Gary Germann, the Porter County prosecutor, apologized via email and said the case was filed before he took office. He blamed the mix up on that tattoo which was on " ...virtually the exact same spot."

"We could not be 100 percent sure it was not her, but at the same time we could not say it was her," Germann said. "We are comfortable with both the decision to charge her initially based on the information available at that time, and we are comfortable with our decision to dismiss the case."

"I think that they're crazy. Totally crazy to get a mix-up like that," Sneed said, adding that the ordeal has been an expensive, time-consuming and stressful process. "It's been very hard. I mean, hiring the lawyer, putting out all this money we don't have for something that I didn't do."

Germann added that in cases like this one, he agrees it's much more useful to not prosecute "someone whose guilt cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt."

Sneed said she's spent about $1,300 in legal fees and is considering filing a lawsuit against the county.
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