ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A lawsuit involving the Albuquerque Police Department and a case of mistaken identity has now been transferred to federal court.

An Air Force veteran was suddenly arrested last year for a crime he didn’t commit, and he’s suing APD for violation of civil rights and tort claims.

It all started with one of Albuquerque’s cluster mailbox break-ins. Thieves hit the jackpot when they found checks, and one guy caught on surveillance was ready to cash in with someone else’s money in September 2015.

“It’s heartbreaking that if the officer had done a couple of minutes of investigation, looked at few photos side-by-side, none of this would have been necessary,” said Marshall Ray, an attorney who represents identity theft victim John Ganley.

Ganley works as a fire dispatcher at Kirtland, but according to a lawsuit against APD Detective Eric Jojola and the City of Albuquerque, the police apparently thought Ganley was the cash-checking thief because the driver’s license the crook gave matched Ganley’s driver’s license number.

But the crook pictured in the surveillance video was not Ganley, and Ray thinks APD needed to take a closer look, comparing the pictures of Ganley in his own driver’s license with the picture of the thief.

“He’s used to leading an upstanding life and has a clean record, which is why he has clearance to go on base, and this was a huge shock to him,” Ray said.

Not knowing a warrant had been issued, Ganley got arrested in May after a traffic stop with his wife in Las Vegas, New Mexico. He was booked in San Juan County and again at MDC.

“Mr. Ganley had no idea he was the target of any law enforcement investigation,” explained Ray.

Five months after the arrest, prosecutors said Ganley was a victim and not a perpetrator and officially dismissed all charges.

“The hope is that Albuquerque Police Department and its detectives will do some investigation before they bring such a major disruption to somebody’s life,” Ray said.

With Ganley’s name cleared in the criminal courts, he’s fighting now for a monetary judgement in civil court, requesting compensatory and punitive damages.

The real perpetrator is not named in the lawsuit, but according to online court records, it appears that the real suspect has not been prosecuted for this offense.

APD typically does not comment on cases involving pending litigation, and messages left seeking comment were not returned Tuesday afternoon.