Last fall, Brian Sean Jones got into uniform, strapped on his gun and a badge and got in an unmarked Maricopa County Sheriffs Office truck. He made four stops that evening: one for a teen caught speeding, one of a suspected prostitute and her customer, one for a car driving without its headlights on, and one woman suspected of DUI. There was just one problem: Brian Sean Jones was not a sheriff’s deputy. Today, The Arizona Republic reported, he faces four felony counts related to his hobby.
Jones, who was on probation after filing a guilty plea in an insurance fraud case, wasn’t part of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s controversial “posse” program. Instead, the Arizona Republic reports, he simply utilized his position at a local car dealership to ingratiate himself with now-fired Chief Deputy David Hendershott to gain access to uniforms, other police equipment, cars, ride-alongs and even the badge he was carrying on the night he got caught by a Phoenix police officer.
In documents supporting the charges against Jones, investigators report that he told them that Hendershott gave him the documentation to buy uniforms and gear, and that officers under Hendershott would leave their sheriffs vehicles with Jones during their days off in order to take unauthorized advantage of his offers of free window tinting. On ride-alongs arranged or approved by Hendershott, Jones told investigators that “he assisted deputies from time to time, for example moving patrol vehicles at the scene or gathering identification from prospective suspects or witnesses and even preparing tow forms and traffic tickets.” He even says got the badge he was carrying on the night he was caught after a deputy loaned it to him to allow him to access the local jail while booking a suspect.
On the night Jones was caught, he had pulled over a woman who reportedly cut him off, suspicious that she was driving intoxicated. Though he had no means to arrest her, investigators wrote that he planned to force her to call for another ride home. Instead, a Phoenix police officer witnessed the stop and pulled over to provide Jones with back-up. With an official car, uniform, badge and gun, the Phoenix officer had no idea Jones was impersonating a deputy, until a supplemental report Jones had offered to the arresting police officers never arrived.
According to the Arizona Republic, it was only when the arresting officer called the Sheriff’s office for that report, citing a fake serial number Jones offered during the stop, that anyone in a position of authority had any idea Jones was playing deputy in his spare time.
The woman who Jones pulled over pleaded guilty, spent one day in jail, paid a $1,500 fine and now has an ignition interlock device on her car.
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