LAND O'LAKES — Roy Antigua had the look of a broken man as he wept inside an interview room in the basement of the Pasco County Jail.
"I didn't do it to hurt anybody," he said, sobbing, a shadow of the intense, confident man in his mug shot. It was Wednesday evening, his 15th day in jail. His face, usually clean-shaven, was scraggly. Antigua wore glasses and a dingy orange-striped uniform. He said he hates for people to see him like this.
For some time, he has preferred his crisp Coast Guard uniform or the neat attire of a CIA man.
"I'm not a bad guy," said Antigua, 52, who insisted on speaking to the Times against his attorney's wishes. "I just made wrong decisions, and I want to make things right."
He said he's not the serial imposter authorities made him out to be after they found a cache of fake government agency badges and uniforms when he was arrested earlier this month. He said he has had a few IDs for years that he used to impress the ladies, but only in the past year did he start going out in uniform or flashing a badge, pretending to be someone he wasn't.
"I was actually filling that void inside of me," he said. "The void of emptiness, you know, of, sometimes, despair.
"Of wanting to feel better."
Antigua was born in Cuba and grew up in Miami. He is an only child, and his parents divorced when he was a teenager. That was tough, he said. He gravitated toward organizations with rules, hierarchy and a foundation of helping others. He loved the Boy Scouts and was an Eagle Scout, he said. He loved the military. He said he thought about enlisting, but he enjoyed working as a respiratory care therapist, a job where he also got to take care of people. He had his pilot's license and volunteered with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, sometimes putting in 20 to 30 hours a week, he said. He married and divorced twice.
He said he struggled with alcoholism, hitting several rock bottoms like a skipping stone. He was convicted of a DUI in 2001. He got sober and then, in 2007, he relapsed again. He met a woman who introduced him to cocaine, which he really liked. He started using his Coast Guard gas credit card to fill up his personal car, then he started filling up other people's cars in exchange for drugs or money to buy drugs, according to court records. In a few years, he racked up $8,000 and was charged with grand theft. He entered a pre-trial diversion program, got sentenced to probation and had to pay restitution, records show.
He came to New Port Richey two years ago for a fresh start.
But after he got here, it all crumbled, he said.
He lost his job. He started drinking again. By his own doing, he was cut off from the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the military environment on which he thrived. Depressed and alone, where no one truly knew him, he decided to reinvent himself.
Here, he could be the person he always wanted to be.
CIA Agent Antigua.
Lt. Cmdr. Antigua.
Someone important, a righteous, courageous man. It felt easy, he said, because his love for law enforcement and the military is sincere and real.
"That was like my drug," he said. "It was my drug of choice."
He wouldn't discuss specifics. He said he got most of his items on eBay. He had a badge saying he was a physician's assistant at Morton Plant Mease hospitals. He wouldn't go into detail but said he has never impersonated anyone at a hospital. He wouldn't discuss a Memorial Day event where he introduced himself to the New Port Richey police chief as Lt. Cmdr. Antigua of the Coast Guard. This resulted in one of the charges of impersonating a federal officer he now faces. The others stem from three occasions when Antigua flashed a fake CIA badge on his way into the West Pasco courthouse.
"That's crazy!" he said as he reflected on his actions. "That's nuts!"
He said he never used his badges to do anything improper. He went through security like everyone else. Once inside the building, he paid a traffic ticket. No one asked him for ID, but he felt compelled to play the part. He chatted with bailiffs and said he was there on official business.
"Why would somebody do this?" Antigua said.
He said he knows he needs therapy and wants to get better. He hasn't been taking his anti-depressants while in jail and said his mind feels more clear. He knows this is his lowest low.
"I'm just a guy that, like everybody, has skeletons in the closet," he said. "Well, this is my skeleton.
"It popped out."
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.