Evidence

Insurer's Tape of Roadside Phone Call Gets Charges Against Policyholder Dismissed


Stopped by the side of the road in Coral Springs, Fla. last October, a 59-year-old woman initially had only two flat tires to deal with, caused, she admits, by bumping the median of the road with her vehicle.

But after an off-duty city police officer in a marked car stopped to help Susan Mait, she wound up facing four criminal charges including driving under the influence and resisting, reports the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

The DUI charge was dismissed when a drug test showed she was using only a prescription antidepressant and Broward County prosecutors declined to pursue a felony resisting charge. But two misdemeanors persisted until Mait’s defense lawyer, Michael Catalano, got a copy from her insurer, Geico, of a call she’d made to their roadside assistance group to seek a tow truck.

Apparently, neither Mait nor the two police officers may have realized they were being recorded. However, the tape rolled on, not only as an officer became frustrated with Mait for talking on the phone to get tow truck information but as she was arrested, allegedly for resisting. Eventually, it captured her sobs and a conversation between several officers that Catalano called “getting their story straight.”

The Broward State’s Attorney’s Office is now looking into a complaint that the officers lied under oath and pursued criminal charges without justification.

A spokesman for the Coral Springs police said it will cooperate fully with the investigation and “will take any and all appropriate administrative actions” as the facts develop. For now, both officers remain on full duty.

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