NEW PORT RICHEY — Roy Antigua, calm, smooth, confident, went through the security line at the courthouse and showed his CIA badge. The bailiffs believed he was an agent until, on Monday, like the rest of the stunned public, they learned Antigua was a master of disguise.
"It's almost like an actor who has been doing this day in and day out," said Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco. He said it appears Antigua has been pretending to be other people — CIA agent and Coast Guard official seemed to be two of his favorite personas — for more than 20 years.
Antigua, 52, was arrested last week on an unrelated charge and officers searching his home found a vast amount of military, law enforcement and medical uniforms, badges and supplies. The closest Antigua has gotten to becoming any of these things is being a volunteer in a Coast Guard auxiliary, authorities said.
Antigua entered the West Pasco courthouse at least three times on the pretense he was a CIA agent on official business, authorities said at a news conference Friday as they announced he was being charged with four counts of impersonating a federal officer. Three of those charges came from his visits to the courthouse with a CIA badge, authorities said, while the other was for presenting himself as a Coast Guard officer at a Memorial Day service where he sat next to the New Port Richey police chief.
During Antigua's courthouse visits, he had no weapon and he did not gain access to any restricted areas, Nocco said. It was still unclear why he was there and what he did.
"We don't know what his intentions were," Nocco said.
Pasco sheriff's Detective Bruce Cohen said Antigua played these roles because he has low self-confidence and becoming these characters made him feel better.
"He seems contrite and remorseful," Cohen said.
He said Antigua told him he's never done anything malicious during his role playing. But Nocco said, "It doesn't mean he cannot be dangerous or that he has not been dangerous in the past."
Nocco said it's going to take months for investigators to check out the hundreds of tips coming in about Antigua and to find out everything he's done.
Antigua was born in Cuba and grew up in Miami. New Port Richey police Chief James Steffens said investigators are trying to find out if Antigua tried to enlist in the military or become a law enforcement officer and was spurned, pushing him into creating these fantasies.
"He wanted to be all these things," Steffens said, "but I don't know right now if he legitimately tried to be any of these things."
Antigua is being held without bail at the Pasco jail. He is also charged with a traffic citation and violating his probation for a grand theft case in Miami.
His friend, Corey White, said Antigua has been calling him every day. He said his nickname in jail is "Secret Agent Man." The men became friends two years ago when they were both waiting at a red light and saw each other's Coast Guard license plates. They pulled over and talked about military life. White served nearly 10 years. Until this week, he believed Antigua was legit.
"He apologized and I said, 'Why did you do it, Roy?' " White said. "He said, 'I don't know, man. I'm just messed up, I guess.' "
White said he believes Antigua is a good person and that he's been unfairly vilified.
"Roy has a good heart and I think he just got caught up in wanting to be around those guys," he said. "Not for anything criminal. He just wanted to be part of that crowd."
White said Antigua said he's being treated okay in jail.
"I've got three hots and a cot," White said Antigua told him.
"Well, Roy, you wanted to know what boot camp was like," White said he told him. "Now you do."
He said Antigua laughed.
Erin Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6229.