Iowa county pays $285,000 to man wrongly jailed for 68 days

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa county agreed Wednesday to pay $285,000 to an Arizona man who was arrested, transported across the country and jailed for 68 days for a crime that he didn’t commit.

The payment will resolve a federal lawsuit that 23-year-old Joseph McBride filed in early January against Linn County and its longtime top prosecutor, County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden.

John Harris, chairman of the county board, confirmed the unusually quick settlement Wednesday to The Associated Press, moments after it was signed. He said the county is self-insured and the payout will come from its insurance fund.

“A person doesn’t like to think that mistakes can be made, but everybody’s human,” he said. “We just have to acknowledge our mistakes, in most cases right them and move on.”


The settlement doesn’t include a formal admission of liability or an apology to McBride, who is black. But his attorney, Tom Frerichs, praised assistant county attorney Bob Hruska, who negotiated the settlement, for “his prompt and thoughtful attention to this case.”

“He did the right thing for the people in Linn County to bring this case to a quick resolution,” Frerichs said.

McBride was wrongly accused of participating in a Jan. 1, 2017, home invasion in Cedar Rapids in which a 27-year-old man was beaten with a handgun and robbed. McBride had grown up in Cedar Rapids but moved to Phoenix in November 2015, and had evidence showing he was 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) away from the scene when the crime occurred.

Vander Sanden signed a complaint charging McBride and two others with first-degree robbery, which carries up to 25 years in prison. Investigators from the Cedar Rapids Police Department never interviewed McBride. But he was implicated after the victim said he did his own investigation on Facebook and told detectives he was “90 percent sure” an account linked to McBride belonged to one of the assailants.

Authorities arrested McBride last August at his home in Phoenix, where he was ordered jailed on a $50,000 cash-only bond. He was taken to Iowa on a private prison van that made stops at jails in Nevada, Colorado and Missouri and cost Linn County taxpayers $2,500. Even before he arrived in Cedar Rapids on Sept. 19, he insisted he was innocent and had cellphone photos proving he was in Glendale, Arizona, hours before the robbery.

McBride’s attorney filed notice of the alibi defense Oct. 9, providing…

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