Investigators book woman as man at Criminal Justice Center

Antonio Silliano (Courtesy Shelby County Sheriff's Department)
Antonio Silliano (Courtesy Shelby County Sheriff's Department)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Investigators are trying to sort out a wild case of mistaken identity at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center after a woman was accidentally booked as a man and spent the night in a cell at an all-male facility.

It is a situation that still has authorities scratching their heads, as they try to determine how it all happened, and what the punishment will be for the jailer who made a big mistake.

The confusion began after police arrested the person, who used the alias Antonio Silliano.

"On the arrest ticket was clearly a white male," Steve Shular of the Shelby County Sheriff's Department said.
But what authorities failed to realize was that he was actually a she.

"It's not a situation that you see everyday - when you see a man that's actually a woman being booked in as a man," Shular said.

So how was this overlooked?

"We didn't do an accurate search," Shular said.

Officials tell Action News 5 there is a policy in place at the jail where suspects who are booked must undergo a strip search if they've been involved in any drug related crimes or felonies.

"That's where we failed in this situation," Shular said. "We just simply had a person that failed to do their job properly.  The policy simply wasn't followed."

Silliano spent the night alone in a jail cell, authorities said. It was not until the next morning, after breakfast, when a second officer noticed something a bit unusual.

"Another alert officer at the jail realized their was something about the features that didn't quite add up.  Once that determination was made, the person was taken to the medical unit.  There was a physical examination at that point," Shular said.

And while the jailer is in trouble for mistaking Silliano's identity, the woman is in trouble for stealing dozens of other people's identities.

Silliano has since been processed out of 201 Poplar and transferred to Jail East, an all women's facility.

Meanwhile, administrative charges are still pending against the deputy jailer. His identity has not been released.

Click here to e-mail Jamel Major.