BETTER CALL BEHNKEN solves problem behind teen’s mysterious hospital bill

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A weight has been lifted from the shoulders of Miguel Leon. St. Joseph’s Hospital agreed to dismiss a big bill in his name.

“I am so relieved,” Leon said.

The 18-year-old Tampa man turned to 8 On Your Side last week when he said authorities didn’t believe him that they had the wrong guy in an overdose case.

Leon ended up stuck with $5,000 in medical bills and his name in law enforcement records, along with the troubling account of the law enforcement call on Aug. 27 to an apartment complex near the University of South Florida.

According to the report and follow-up medical records from paramedics and the hospital, Leon claimed to have taken “too much Molly” and couldn’t give simple information like his name and where he lived.

Problem is, Leon claims he was home in Tampa, where he lives with his parents. He says he’s never even been to the apartment complex where the incident occurred.

“I was shocked,” Leon said.

He thought it was a mistake and called the hospital, but said he was told to contact the police.

“The only response, phone call I got was, ‘Oh, no, this is you. All of the information is pointing straight to you,” Leon said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

So, Leon went to the Tampa Police Department to file an identity theft report and was told he had an even bigger problem. Law enforcement reports show Miguel Leon was picked up by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, after an overdose of the drug Molly, at an apartment complex near the University of South Florida.

The subject could not talk because of the drug overdose and was unresponsive even at the hospital, hospital records show. The sheriff’s deputy identified the subject as Miguel Leon, after a person who claimed to be his roommate identified the subject as Miguel Leon.

Then, that name was confirmed with the University of South Florida Police Department. They happened to have Miguel Leon in their system because he is scheduled to start school at USF next year.

The deputy then compared the driver’s license photo of Miguel Leon with the overdosed person and determined they were similar enough to make the identification. At the time, there was no reason to doubt the information given to the deputy.

Another unfortunate fact for Miguel Leon — he was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where his billing address was already in their computer because he was treated there at age 11 for a broken arm.

Hospital records, obtained by 8 On Your Side, show, “patient is not speaking now, and is refusing to speak to staff or registration.”

Leon says the hospital staff told him they go by the name provided by law enforcement. That is something officials at the hospital would not confirm. A spokeswoman said hospital protocol calls for requiring a government-issued identification card. If there is not one, the patient is supposed to be recorded at John or Jane Doe.

So, at a loss as to where to go next, Miguel Leon turned to 8 On Your Side’s Better Call Behnken and we went to the apartment complex, near the University of South Florida, where the overdose incident occurred. We found out a man lives right next door to the person who anonymously contacted police. His name: Leon McGill. Sounds similar.

And then, apartment management shed light on what happened. They say Leon McGill, their resident, is the one who was transported to the hospital, not Miguel Leon. Miguel, they said, is not a resident and they do not recognize him. Staff said they have photographs for every resident of the complex and they were very familiar with the details of the Aug. 27 incident.

So, 8 On Your Side took this information to the sheriff’s office and to USF Police. Officials at both agencies said they were glad to get this new information and thought it warranted a follow-up inquiry.

“There’s apparently some questions that still need to be answered, and we’re going to look into it to determine who is this situation,” said Renna Reddick, public information officer for the University of South Florida Police Department. “We’re certainly glad you brought this to our attention. We’re going to investigate it and find out what’s happening.

Meanwhile, St. Joseph’s Hospital reviewed the case again and decided not to charge Miguel Leon with the bill. A spokesman said staff is reviewing what went wrong and whether hospital procedures were followed.

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