Imagine not being able to land a job because you have the same name and birth date as a convicted sex offender. A Buffalo man is facing that very tough situation right now.
It is an indescribable frustration facing John Lamar Johnson, a North Buffalo man with family to provide for, who says he’s not giving up until his name is cleared. When your name is John Johnson, you know you’re not the only one out there.
“I told my mom I wanted to change it. She said no, I gave you that name,” John said.
Unfortunately for this John Johnson, there is another man in Buffalo who shares the same name, the same date of birth, and just happens to be a registered sex offender.
“There is no way I should be associated with this guy. We don’t look the same,” he said.
They don’t have the same middle name either. But that doesn’t matter. Because John C. Johnson the sex offender is now haunting John L. Johnson the father of 5, who’s never been convicted of a serious crime.
“Being wrongly accused of being a sex offender is the worst. It’s worse than being accused of being a felon,” John said.
John waited ten years to be accepted for rental assistance, but his acceptance was short lived. When Belmont Housing Resources pulled his criminal history and it said he was a sex offender, they denied him.
“I needed this to be able to provide for my family. And it was taken away from me for something I didn’t do myself. I didn’t do that,” John said.
John printed off a copy of his criminal history report. And sure enough, that sex offender part is in there.
According to Erie county central police services, it is an unfortunate result of how these NCIC background checks work. They search by name and date of birth, and if no one asks a follow-up question, mistakes like this can happen.
That’s not good enough to John Lamar Johnson, who feels like his identity has been stolen.
“You guys made this mistake. Why can’t you guys fix it?” John said.
John says he hasn’t been able to land a job for the last two years — even fast food jobs. Two years ago is when John C. Johnson was added to the sex offender registry by the Buffalo Police Department.
Belmont Housing Resources will keep his case open and work with him to get assistance.