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Man who was wrongly arrested in prostitution sting plans lawsuit

Posted at 2:11 PM, Mar 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-05 19:21:05-05

A Jensen Beach man, mistakenly arrested in the ongoing human trafficking ring in our area, now plans to file a lawsuit against the Martin County Sheriff’s Office.

Sandipkumar Patel shared his story Tuesday morning, sitting next to his wife and attorney, David Golden, in Stuart.

“On Feb. 25, I thought my life had ended,” Patel said, as tears rolled down his face. “Shame and dishonor not only fell upon me, but upon my family and our family name.”

Patel’s wife, Sonal Patel, tried to console her husband as he detailed being arrested as one of the “monsters of human trafficking.”

Golden said Martin County Sheriff’s deputies went to Patel’s home and told Sonal her husband was on video paying money for sex acts inside Florida Therapy Spa in Stuart on Nov.19.

“To show her his picture as causing her to believe that was him at that spa is just unconscionable,” said David Golden, Patel’s attorney.

“When they told me what the charges were I couldn’t catch my breath,” Sonal Patel said. “I was led to believe the man I love and trust with our lives not only broken the trust, but brought shame to our family name.”

Last week, Martin County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Dougherty said Patel was wrongfully identified as having patronized the spa, and charges were dropped against the 47-year-old.

The confusion happened when investigators ran the tags on a blue Porsche that left the spa, which was registered to a woman with the last name of Patel. Dougherty said they identified a man with the last name Patel, who they say seemed identical to the man in the surveillance video.

“There is no connection between that vehicle and their property, or his family at all,” said David Golden, Patel’s attorney. “We’re seeking compensation to right this wrong and we will be filing suit.”

Patel owns two businesses and has two young daughters. He’s originally from India, and says his culture is based on dignity and character.

“This did not have to happen, and there is nothing that can erase the hell my family and I’ve been through,” Patel said.

Following the news conference, Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said in a statement, “When we discovered that Mr. Patel was mistakenly identified and arrested, we personally met with him to further investigate. As a result, we notified the media and immediately began actions to pay his expenses and start the process of expunging his misdemeanor arrest record. Because Mr. Patel has obtained an attorney and announced his intentions to sue the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, we must limit further public comment.”