FBI to Pay Man $190,000 to Settle Wrong-Arrest Case

A San Diego man wrongfully arrested by an FBI agent in May 2000 will get $190,000 from the federal agency in a federal court settlement.  Julian Christopher Lee was arrested on a warrant that an FBI agent knew to be false, Lee’s lawyer, Douglas Gilliland said Monday.  The settlement approved Friday by federal Magistrate Judge Ruben B. Brooks follows a 2004 federal appeals court ruling that allowed Lee to continue the suit he filed against the FBI and agent Jake Gregory, Gilliland said.

“They knowingly had the wrong person put in jail for not cooperating with the agent,” Gilliland said.  He said the case “should be able to guide future FBI agents with what they can and can’t do.”  “Clearly, if somebody doesn’t want to participate with your investigation, you can’t have that person arrested so  you can interrogate them further,” Gilliland said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office which represented Gregory and the FBI, declined comment.  In a separate suit filed by Gilliland and San Diego attorney Eugene Iredale, Lee won an $81,000 jury verdict in June 2002 against the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, the agency that locked him up for five days.  The government had previously argued that Lee was arrested by mistake instead of his brother, Robert, a fugitive wanted on robbery and assault charges.

Gilliland said Lee’s brother had assumed Lee’s identity, using his Social Security number and driver’s license.  When Lee refused to cooperate with Gregory, the agent called Dade County, Florida and asked for a copy of an outstanding arrest warrant to be faxed to him, Gilliland said.  The warrant named a “Christopher Lee” but contained Julian’s date of birth and Social Security number, Gilliland said.  He said it also described a man who was 90 pounds lighter and two inches shorter than Julian Lee.