KELOLAND News has learned 25-year-old Luis Berrios Perez was mistakenly set free seven years before he was supposed to be released all because of a paperwork snafu.
On July 5, Perez walked out of prison a free man. Only problem is he wasn’t supposed to. Prison records showed Perez had served his time for a 2007 drug conviction out of Beadle County.
But he was supposed to stay locked up for another seven years for a drug conviction he got while on parole. Documents spell it out in black and white.
“He probably feels he got a pretty good break,” Beadle County State’s Attorney Michael Moore said.
Moore says the prison never got those documents.
“My understanding of what happened is in November 2011, when he received a seven-year sentence from our judge here on the drug charges, he was transported back to the penitentiary,” Moore said.
But the paperwork never made it. Moore says it’s an embarrassing mistake and this should have never happened.
“Ultimately, it’s our responsibility to ensure that paperwork gets to the pen. Ultimately, our office made a mistake by not ensuring that the penitentiary got that paperwork,” Moore said.
Perez is a convicted drug dealer that Beadle County authorities don’t believe is a danger to the public.
“Based on his prior history, there isn’t any indication he’s committed any violent crimes or hurt anybody,” Moore said.
Authorities are now searching for Perez to lock him back up. And Beadle County is changing its procedures to make sure something like this never happens again.
“From now on when that happens, the sheriff’s office will not leave with that prisoner until they have the paperwork in hand as we do with all the other cases,” Moore said.
Beadle County authorities are working with the Attorney General’s office to issue an arrest warrant for Perez. As for his whereabouts, Moore says Perez doesn’t have any ties to the area and might have headed back to his home in Puerto Rico.