BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Picture this: you’re having the time of you’re life on a cruise to Cozumel, and as you get back to America, you have police waiting for you on the ship ready to arrest you for something you didn’t even come close to doing.
The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office had a warrant out for the arrest of a Sara Saucier for failure to return a leased vehicle back in 2017, however, the Sara Saucier arrested after her cruise wasn’t the Sara authorities were looking for.
It was supposed to be a dream vacation to Cozumel for Sara Saucier and her husband.
“It was the best time of our life on the cruise. It was my first time being out of the country, it was my honeymoon, it was amazing, and just to have it end like that, I honestly am afraid to go back,” said Saucier.
When the ship docked back in New Orleans on Feb. 10, security came to the couple’s door and demanded Sara talk with authorities on the boat.
“Soon as my license was handed over, she told me you’re under arrest,” said Saucier.
According to EBRSO, Saucier was facing charges for failure to return a leased vehicle back in November of 2017. New Orleans Harbor Police arrested her for the outstanding warrant.
“At first, I thought they would realize they made the mistake and they’d let me go as soon as they did realize it, so I was hopeful at first,” said Saucier while holding back tears.
She spent the day and night in Orleans Parish Prison.
“When I was in the holding cell, in customs, I started singing worship music to get me through it because I believe in God and I know that He can do anything for us,” said Saucier.
The next day, on Feb. 11, she was transported to the East Baton Rouge Parish Jail.
That's around the time when EBRSO claims they realized they had picked up the wrong Sara Saucier.
Saucier says she wasn’t released until around 4 p.m. on Feb. 11.
The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office took full responsibility saying, “the detective filing the warrant mistakenly filed it for a woman of the same name, but different date of birth.”
“They said, ‘Let her go immediately, set her free. Take that off of her. She’s [other Sara Saucier] very small, all dark hair. My husband found all of her information,’” said Saucier.
Sheriff Sid Gautreaux also apologized, saying, “My number one priority is keeping our community safe and informed. It’s imperative that this parish has trust in our ability to do our job competently and thoroughly. I am sorry that such an error was made that caused an innocent woman to be put in such an upsetting situation. I am fully committed to continuously reviewing, updating and improving policies, procedures and training. I will do all I can to put every possible safeguard in place to attempt to prevent this from happening again.”
“I am thankful that they have apologized. Unfortunately that doesn’t take care of everything that happened when I was there. I’m not saying it’s their fault at all, but somebody made a big mistake,” said Saucier.
The detective who filed the warrant back in 2017 retired in November of 2019 after 30 years with the office.
Saucier is now consulting with her attorney about what to do next.
The full statement from Casey Hicks, the public information officer with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, reads:
"In November of 2017 a detective with our Auto Theft Division entered a warrant into the system for Failure to Return a Leased Vehicle. The detective filing the warrant mistakenly filed it for a woman of the same name, but different date of birth.
As a result of the warrant the woman was placed under arrest by the New Orleans Harbor Police on Monday afternoon as she reentered the country through Customs. EBRSO detectives were made aware of the error Tuesday as the woman was being transported back to Baton Rouge. Once aware, detectives immediately recalled the warrant and released the woman.
In 2018, after this warrant was entered into the system, and prior to this incident, the newly promoted Major over Property Crimes reviewed and revised Auto Theft Division policies and procedures in order to ensure additional checks and balances with regard to investigations. The office is currently conducting a thorough audit of active warrants for the agency and will continue to do so routinely."