Clay County Sheriff's Office settles wrongful arrest lawsuit


GREEN COVE SPINGS, Fla. – The Clay County Sheriff's Office has settled the wrongful lawsuit filed by a woman who was wrongfully arrested twice.

The lawsuit by Ashley Nicole Chiasson was settled for $67,000.

Four ranking Clay County detectives were suspended and transferred out of the detective division and into the patrol division after wrongfully arresting Chiasson twice.

Detective Mark Maertz and Sgt. William Roberts were suspended for 30 days, Lt. Dan Mahla received a seven-day suspension, and Sgt. Robert Curry was suspended for five days.

In June, the Sheriff's Office said it had jailed a Louisiana woman for five weeks for crimes that she didn't commit.

Ashley Nicole Chiasson was arrested instead of Ashley Odessa Chiasson, the correct suspect, who was later booked into the Clay County jail and charged with attempting to defraud a financial institution and grand theft.

According to the internal investigation report by the Sheriff's Office, the detectives' work as "sloppy" and "complacent."

According to the report, Maertz was responsible for the initial incorrect identification of Ashley Nicole Chiasson as the suspect in a grand theft case last fall. The report says Maertz never reviewed case evidence and photos, nor conducted follow-up interviews with the victim or witness or even speak to the suspect. Instead, he relied solely on law enforcement databases to find a similarly named suspect and use that information to charge the wrong Ashley Chiasson with the crime.