State Senator Charles Fuschillo today announced that the Senate has approved a measure he sponsors that would expand the crime of impersonating a police officer to include all law enforcement officers. The legislation would close a loophole in current state law that has allowed dangerous criminals who have committed felonies while pretending to be federal agents or other types of law enforcement to get away with lighter sentences than they would if they had pretended to be a police officer.
Senator Fuschillo (R-Merrick, LI) said, "Criminals who pretend to be law enforcement agents and use that power and authority to commit a felony should not be let off with a slap on the wrist simply because of a technicality in the law. My legislation will keep them from taking advantage of this dangerous loophole."
The legislation was first drafted by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office at the request of the New York Police Department which has had to contend with numerous cases in which dangerous criminals received lower penalties because the offenders, though assuming the identity of law enforcement, did not pretend to be "police officers."
"Impersonating a law enforcement officer and abusing the public's trust is intolerable and poses a potentially deadly threat," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "The law needs to be clear - display a fake badge and you are going to pay a high price."
Under current law, only those convicted of impersonating a police officer are guilty of a felony (Class E, up to four years in prison); impersonating any other type of law enforcement official is only considered a misdemeanor (often no jail time).
In February of this year, New York Police Department (NYPD) investigators arrested alleged gang member Anthony Clanton for impersonating a federal agent and possession of a stolen police gun. A search of his Staten Island apartments revealed a fake Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) badge, homemade search warrants and other phony identification. Police also found a loaded 9-mm. Glock handgun that had been reported stolen by an NYPD officer in January.
Clanton had allegedly used the fake DEA badge, other bogus identification and police gun to rob drug dealers to finance his extravagant lifestyle which included a fleet of luxury cars and two apartments with plasma TVs in every room. Clanton had previously served eight years in federal prison for trying to murder an undercover police officer in 1997.
Clanton could only be charged with a misdemeanor for pretending to be a federal agent, because of the current loophole in state law.
Senator Fuschillo’s legislation (S. 3079) would extend the crime of Criminal Impersonation to include impersonation of not only a police officer, but of any law enforcement officer, whether the title of such office exists or is fictitious.
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