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Man accused of using fake ID at DIA wins $500,000 in wrongful arrest lawsuit

The ID card was expired and had been through the wash but was not forged.
Credit: Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
A jury awarded $500,000 to a man accused of presenting a fake ID card at Denver International Airport -- the card was expired, but was not forged.

DENVER — A federal jury awarded $500,000 to a man who was arrested at Denver International Airport on charges that he’d forged an identification card.

Denver police arrested Juan Valenzuela in Feb. 2017 after concluding that his California identification card was forged. In reality, it was expired and had been damaged after going through the wash but was not fake.

Valenzuela, a prison guard, offered several other forms of identification to a Denver police officer, including his employment ID which included his photo.

The officer arrested him on suspicion of felony forgery, and Valenzuela spent two days in jail and lost his job. The criminal charges were eventually dropped.

Valenzuela sued for wrongful arrest, and the federal jury included $300,000 in punitive damages in its award.

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