When 23-year-old Corey Eason, a small-time central Illinois drug dealer, was paroled from prison for a cocaine dealing conviction in 2002, he was mistakenly classified as a sex offender even though he had never been accused, arrested or convicted of any sex-related offense. As a result, Eason (who was unaware of this error) was listed on Illinois’ sex offender registry, and had his picture posted on the Internet.
Three years later, in March 2005, when Eason was arrested in Bloomington and charged with assault and possession of a controlled substance, his name was found on the sex offender registry. As a result, he was charged with three counts of failing to report a change of address as required by the Illinois Sex Offender Registration Act, and convicted at a bench trial.
In September 2005, at the request of Eason’s attorney, the McLean County Probation Department contacted the Illinois State Police, who maintain the sex offender website, and they looked into Eason’s case. They could not explain why Eason was prosecuted since it was evident from his criminal record, which was available to both prosecutors and defense counsel, that he had never been convicted of a sex offense.
The McLean County prosecutors were also notified of the mistake, and, at a hearing on October 25, 2005, they acknowledged the error. McLean County Circuit Court Judge Ronald Dozier vacated the convictions, saying, “I’m glad we got this straightened out before it got too much further down the line.” Eason received probation on the assault and drug possession charges for which he had been arrested in March, 2005.
Eason’s plan to pursue a civil suit over his ordeal never materialized. In April 2011, he was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
— Center on Wrongful Convictions