NEW PORT RICHEY — A stranger in a Coast Guard uniform introduced himself to New Port Richey police Chief James Steffens. It was a Memorial Day event at a cemetery. The man said he was Lt. Cmdr. Roy Antigua, and he sat next to the chief in a special section for officials.
"Everybody around there thought that he was the real deal," Steffens said.
But it turns out Antigua is a man of many identities and disguises, none of which appear to be real, authorities said.
"We need to know, from start to finish," Steffens said at a news conference Monday, "who is Roy Antigua?"
So far, authorities have found out he is from Cuba and has family in Miami. He is single. And he owns a worrisome hoard of law enforcement, military and medical uniforms, badges, identification cards and supplies, discovered when Antigua's home was searched after he was arrested on an unrelated charge.
Antigua, 52, had a NASA uniform. U.S. Customs. The Navy. The CIA. Secret Service. Homeland Security. Dozens of military medals. A flight helmet and flight instructor badge. A Boy Scout troop leader uniform.
Officers found a suitcase full of medical scrubs and a black leather doctor's bag with instruments. Antigua had badges saying he was a physician's assistant. There was a photo of Antigua in scrubs holding a newborn. Steffens said his team is investigating to find out where that was taken and what role Antigua played.
Investigators also found ammunition for semiautomatic guns and assault rifles, but no weapons. Antigua's shiny black Cadillac Escalade with dark tinted windows had a Department of Homeland Security registration sticker and a Coast Guard license plate. He had blue flashing lights and handcuffs.
Authorities are trying to figure out if Antigua was using this vast stockpile to impersonate characters, such as at the Memorial Day event, and how far his imaginations reached.
"Is he really a threat or is he someone who is living a very involved fantasy life?" Steffens said, standing behind seven tables full of seized items.
The only thing that was true on the table, Steffens said, was an identification card saying Antigua was a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary in Miami, a volunteer unit, but Antigua was kicked out in 2011 after being arrested on a grand theft charge.
Last week, Antigua was pulled over on a traffic stop and charged with driving without a valid license and violating his probation in the grand theft case. At the station, Officer Ed Campbell, a Marine veteran, noticed Antigua's military ID looked fake.
That began the investigation.
Steffens said Antigua confessed to owning the collection.
"He is remorseful," Steffens said. "He said this was something that got out of hand."
Antigua is being held without bail at the Pasco jail. He declined an interview request Monday.
"He's just a nice man," said Darlene Willis, the property manager at River's Edge apartments in New Port Richey, where Antigua lived for several months. She said he told her he was in the Coast Guard. "He's a gentleman," she said, "truly a gentleman."
Another resident said the opposite, that Antigua was angry and violent, boasting that he was a federal agent, flashing his badge to intimidate others.
"He said, 'The police won't touch me,' " said Patricia Curtin.
Curtin had a business card of Antigua's saying he was a medical social worker for Medi Home Health. A woman who answered the New Port Richey office phone said Antigua stopped working there a few months ago and declined to say more.
Antigua is a licensed respiratory care practitioner, according to the Department of Health. It is unclear where he was employed.
Detectives are working with federal law enforcement agencies, the military, hospitals and other groups trying to find out if Antigua had dealings with them. Steffens said detectives found one person who flew as a passenger in a plane with Antigua, but it is unknown if Antigua actually had a pilot's license.
Steffens asks anyone who might have dealt with Antigua to call his agency at (727) 841-4550.
"You don't have this collection just to keep it in your house and look in the mirror," Steffens said.
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Erin Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6229.