Wrongly accused: man in Key Bank images is not the person the police want
A man wearing a plaid shirt and a hat entered the Key Bank branch in Park City on Nov. 25, 2009 just after 1 p.m. to conduct his business with the bank.
Nearly eight months later, on July 9, the Park City Police Department released an image of the man attached to a press release calling him a suspect in a case involving what investigators say is a counterfeit check.
But the man in the image, which was taken by a security camera, is not a suspect, the lead police investigator said this week, in what is likely an embarrassing situation for both the Police Department and the bank.
The Police Department made public six images of the man when the press release was issued. The Park Record published one of the images in its July 17 edition. Quickly afterward, the Police Department backed away from the images, saying that the man is not the person they are seeking.
Robert deBotelho, a detective who is investigating the counterfeiting case, and Key Bank said they have apologized to the man. deBotelho said the man in the image was at the bank to make a deposit. The detective said the man is from the Snyderville Basin, but he declined to identify him.
"I feel bad for the guy. On behalf of the Park City Police Department, I apologized," deBotelho said.
According to deBotelho, Key Bank officials provided the images to the Police Department in the week prior to the police issuing the press release. He said Key Bank’s internal investigators reviewed the images before they were given to the Police Department.
"It was a mistake, and they realized it after the fact," he said.
A Utah-based Key Bank investigator contacted deBotelho after The Park Record published the image, the detective said.
Meanwhile, a friend of the Snyderville Basin man in the image called the person, who was not in Park City at the time the image was published, deBotelho said. The man in the image looked at it on his smartphone and then contacted the police.
"He was just confused about what happened," deBotelho said, adding that the man was "kind of shocked, to say the least, his picture was there."
deBotelho said it is not clear whether the man in the image was inside the bank at the same time the counterfeiting suspect was there. The detective wants to interview the man in the image nonetheless to learn whether he saw the person who cashed the counterfeit check.
The Police Department continues to investigate the counterfeiting case. deBotelho said the case involves someone tampering with the amount on the check, changing the figure to approximately ten times the amount that the check writer, a business, intended. The bank did not become aware of the case until months after the check was cashed at Key Bank, deBotelho said.
The detective said he is not aware of the bank having an image of the person who cashed the check.
Key Bank officials in Park City referred questions to a Denver-based spokesman. Jack Sparks, the spokesman, said Key Bank is conducting an internal investigation to determine how the image of the wrong man was provided to the police. The case is the first of its kind at Key Bank in the 4 1/2 years Sparks has been with the bank, he said.
"We deeply regret this error," Sparks said, apologizing to the man.
He said a high-ranking Key Bank official based in Utah offered a personal apology. Sparks declined to discuss details about the internal investigation. He also declined to answer questions about the ongoing probe into the counterfeit check.
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