TRINITY — When Pasco sheriff's Capt. James Mallo stopped in Dunkin' Donuts early this week for his usual morning coffee, the store's manager approached him.
She wanted to know whether law enforcement officers usually asked for discounts.
They shouldn't, he told her.
Well, she said, someone was.
Just before 10 a.m. on Nov. 6, reports state, Charles Thomas Barry, 48, came to the Dunkin' Donuts at 10829 State Road 54. He whipped out a gold star badge and asked for a discount on his coffee. When the cashier refused, Barry held up his .38-caliber revolver — still in its holster — and said, "See? I'm a cop!" The cashier later told deputies Barry never pointed the gun at him.
The manager, Michelle Hoeltk, said Barry had come by before, usually between 9:30 and 9:50 a.m. He first said he was a U.S. Marshal, then a U.S. Air Marshal. Sometimes he came in on weekends with his family, and still requested a discount. Sometimes he received 10 percent off.
The requests didn't sit well with Sheriff Chris Nocco — especially if people thought his deputies were asking for freebies. Under general order, he said, deputies are allowed to accept discounts that businesses offer them. But no one is supposed to ask for one.
The next time Barry came to the coffee shop, Hoeltk took down his license plate number.
Deputies set up surveillance. When Barry came again on Tuesday in his blue minivan, reports state, they pulled him over. Inside his wallet, they found the source of his power: a Morris County Sheriff's Office badge. He carried the gun in his front pocket.
Barry's father had been a captain in the New Jersey agency, but Barry had never joined the ranks.
Barry, of 2021 Blue Beech Court in Trinity, was arrested on charges of impersonating an officer and improper exhibition of a firearm. He has since been released after posting $5,150 bail.
Dunkin' Donuts corporate offices did not field questions from reporters. The company released a statement instead: "Dunkin' Donuts is aware of the incident that occurred in New Port Richey, Florida. The safety and well-being of our guests and crew members is important to Dunkin' Donuts and we are pleased that the suspect has been apprehended."
Nocco pointed out in a news conference Wednesday that he's glad the cashier challenged Barry. "It's okay to question," Nocco said. "It really is an issue that people out there are trying to play cops, and they could have done something crazy that could have hurt somebody. We're thankful that it was just a cup of coffee."