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Man charged with impersonating an officer after flashing fake badge

HUDSON — Harrison David Welles blew past a sheriff's deputy on U.S. 19 Thursday morning doing almost 20 mph over the speed limit, a

report says.

The Spring Hill man was driving an all-black Ford Crown Victoria still bearing some of the trappings of its former life as a police car: laptop stand, fire extinguisher, plug-in spotlight and slim jim for getting into locked cars.

It's not illegal to have those things, but the circumstances led sheriff's Deputy Jay Galassi to wonder if Welles was trying to pass himself off as a cop.

"All that in combination does not look good from a law enforcement standpoint," sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said.

And when the deputy asked Welles for identification, the report says, he pulled out a wallet with a gold badge affixed to it bearing the inscription "U.S. Customs, the Department of the Treasury, Special Agent."

It looked real, the report says, except it was printed on cardboard.

Welles, 45, tried to conceal the fake badge while fishing for his driver's license. "This maneuver appeared to be very awkward for the defendant," the deputy wrote.

Welles, whose occupation is listed as "self-employed," told the deputy he has been stopped in the past under similar circumstances.

In 2004, Clearwater police officers accused him of illegally displaying the word "police" on his car. He was driving a Police Interceptor model Crown Victoria, said Clearwater spokeswoman Elizabeth Daly-Watts. It was white.

The black Ford that Welles was driving Thursday — also a Police Interceptor — had a piece of black tape over the word "police," Doll said.

Clearwater officers let Welles go with a warning and referred the incident to the State Attorney's Office. The outcome was not known Friday.

Thursday's stop landed him in jail. Welles, of 436 Leafy Way Ave. in Spring Hill, was charged with a unlawful use of a police badge, a misdemeanor. He was later released after posting $250 bail.

Welles told the deputy he bought the wallet, with the badge attached, at a flea market.

Molly Moorhead can be reached

at moorhead@sptimes.com

or (727) 869-6245.

Man charged with impersonating an officer after flashing fake badge 05/02/08 [Last modified: Monday, May 5, 2008 2:30pm]
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