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Mug shot misery: Tampa woman feels extorted

9:43 AM, Jan 10, 2014   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- Heather Dondlinger is fed up and frustrated. She says she's being extorted for her mug shot after one silly fight with her sister years ago. Ever since, she tells us her life has been ruined, and it all comes down to one unfortunate photo.

"I understand everyone's trying to make a dollar, but don't make a dollar off of someone else's misfortune, that's not right," Heather told 10 News.

In Heather's case, she and sister were roommates and got into a sibling shoving match over something so petty, she doesn't even remember what it was. She was arrested and charged with domestic violence, and while the charges were dropped, the mug shot was not.

"I just happened to do a Google search of myself and I'm on two or three different websites that aren't Hillsborough County," says Heather.

It got so bad for her that she lost her job at a local hotel. It happened during the Republican National Convention when delegates were staying there and background checks were done on employees. Even though, the charges were dropped her in case and it was a misdemeanor, her bosses considered it a "violent" offense and let her go.

Now, she can't find a job and can't afford to pay multiple websites hundreds of dollars to get her mug shot removed.

"That was my first and only charge! You know I don't want that for the rest of my life and you're going to make a profit off my mistake," she admits.

That's why Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is shutting down mug shots on his agency's website, so that companies don't make money off misery.

"I'm totally supportive of that because like I said, because for a first time offender like myself, it's embarrassing enough," she says.

If you'd like to do some research on someone in Pinellas and see a mug shot, the photos are still there. You just have to make a special request to view it. The sheriff said he would honor those requests and the turnaround time would not be very long.


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