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Alleged Phony Officer Is Jailed

A Temecula parolee stopped drivers, made arrests and booked prisoners, police say.

August 13, 2003|Hanah Cho | Times Staff Writer

A Temecula man recently released from prison was arrested on suspicion of posing as a law enforcement officer, including conducting traffic stops, making arrests and even booking suspected bail jumpers into jail, authorities said Tuesday.

Jesse Adrian Wagner was arrested Friday after San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies allegedly found him impersonating an officer at the site of a traffic collision at Cedar and Slover avenues in Bloomington.

Wagner, 28, had been the focus of an investigation after he allegedly showed up at several traffic incidents and identified himself as a "state warrant officer" -- a nonexistent position -- for the California Department of Corrections Special Services Unit, sheriff's officials said.

He had been driving a police-edition Ford Crown Victoria, wearing a uniform, a badge and a gun belt with a baton, taser gun and pellet gun, police said.

Wagner was also arrested on suspicion of weapons violations, police said.

About three weeks ago, a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy handling a call became suspicious after Wagner showed up and began asking questions about law enforcement procedures, said sheriff's Det. Maggie Finneran.

Investigators found that Wagner had contact with other law enforcement officials as far back as April, she said.

In one incident, Wagner helped sheriff's deputies arrest a man in Chino Hills, Finneran said.

His car was equipped with a police scanner, she said.

"I'm amazed that he was able to pull this off with so many officers, that so many officers didn't suspect him immediately," she said. "He was convincing and confident enough to do what he was doing to pull it off."

Wagner was released from prison in July 2002 after serving three years for a sex crime in Northern California and was placed on parole until February, Finneran said.

Wagner could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Wagner had been working for Bulldog Bail Bonds in Lake Elsinore for about a year, Finneran said.

A man who answered the phone at Bulldog Bail Bonds declined to comment about Wagner.

Wagner's name was listed as the arresting officer on booking forms at jails in Riverside, Los Angeles and Orange counties, Finneran said.

Wagner allegedly had identified himself as a detective, an investigator and a state warrant officer to jail officials, Finneran said.

Wagner also allegedly targeted Mexican nationals coming out of bars in Fontana and Bloomington.

Wagner allegedly placed them under arrest, robbed them and threatened to call immigration, Finneran said.

When he was arrested Friday, Wagner was wearing a dark blue police-type uniform with shoulder patches and badge, and "State Warrant Officer" inscribed on the back, authorities said.

He was driving a white 1998 Crown Victoria with a backseat cage, spotlights, a police scanner, windshield-mounted red lights and siren. Numerous law enforcement equipment, publications and paraphernalia as well as arrest records and warrants of individuals were found inside the vehicle, authorities said.

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