(This situation is so unusual that it must first be read in full detail and then, we welcome our readers to participate in the poll at the end of this newsletter.)
A NY Post article published today tells the story of a man who had been convicted of armed robbery, sentenced and, well, no one noticed that he wasn’t incarcerated – for 13 years – until his release date. Much to Corrections surprise, this man was not and had not been in prison all of those years. He hadn’t escaped, run away or gone underground.
A convicted criminal who spent 13 years as a free man because of a clerical error now faces the same amount of time in jail — after authorities discovered their boneheaded mistake more than a decade later.
Missouri officials who stumbled upon the paperwork bungle — which showed felon Cornealious “Mike” Anderson as an inmate in state prison even though he never showed up there — want to undo the snafu by throwing the now-upstanding businessman behind bars for the next 13 years.
The case has left legal experts baffled and Anderson’sfamily and friends struggling to understand the sordid past of the armed robber, who by all accounts is a changed man.
“Even the victim himself went on record and said, ‘Idon’t think this guy should be in jail,’ ” said Anderson’s lawyer, Patrick Megaro.
Anderson, 37, is now a married father of four, owns his own contracting business, coaches football and is a devoted churchgoer, according to his lawyer and family.
But when he was just 22, Anderson and a friend robbed a Burger King night manager at gunpoint in St. Louis. No one was hurt in the 1999 holdup, but Anderson was sentenced to 13 years.
He spent 10 months in jail before his family managed to cobble together $25,000 to secure his release as he filed a series of unsuccessful appeals, the Riverfront Times reported.
After the last judicial rejection, the young man, out on bond, waited for law enforcement to take him to prison.
But they never came.
He began to build a life, learned the carpentry trade, and fell in love.
In a final 2004 effort to secure his freedom, Anderson hired yet more lawyers to appeal his conviction. Court documents at that time make clear that Anderson was not in prison, but authorities didn’t seem to notice.
The appeal went nowhere, but again no one showed up to take Anderson to prison.
It was only last summer — when his sentence “ended” — that correction officials went to release him and noticed he was never there. US Marshals descended on his quiet, suburban St. Louis home and finally locked him up.
“He’s been away from home for nine months. It seems longer,” his devastated wife, LaQonna, 30, told The Post.
The couple is raising four children ranging in age from 3 to 12.
“He is a changed man,” she said. “Everybody deserves second chances, I believe, and my husband is one of them. He’s completely turned his life around.”
More than 10,000 people have signed a Change.org petition, demanding Anderson’s release.
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