T. Bruce Robinson Jr. falsely represented himself as a retired U.S. Secret Service agent to hundreds of people in the past 10 years - apparently with no more nefarious intent than to cadge free coffee at the Westminster 7-Eleven, according to his conviction and sentencing last week in Carroll County Circuit Court.
The charade fell through the afternoon of June 28, said assistant state's attorney Edward J. Coyne. The convenience store clerk became suspicious because she believed Robinson had stolen a $5 plastic mug and doubted his claim that he got free refills because he was a retired police officer - because she "never had any other police officers make such a statement."
Robinson, 65, of the 3300 block of Salem Bottom Road, was arrested and charged June 30. He was questioned by the Maryland State Police and the Secret Service, according to court records and the plea bargain.
A search of his Crown Victoria and his home in the Winfield area turned up numerous badges and identification cards, including two badges as a Department of Commerce "Commander - Bureau of Export Enforcement, Ret."; a White House identification for a "Dr. Robinson"; baseball caps, jackets and shirts with embroidered logos; red, white and blue emergency police lights; and, in the trunk, a nylon case with a Secret Service logo containing a Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol and ammunition.
Robinson never had any police powers, beyond serving with the Carroll County Fire Police, whose duties involve directing traffic at fires and events, Coyne said. The gun was registered, he said, and Robinson thought it was legal to carry it in the trunk.
Judge Thomas F. Stansfield imposed a $750 fine on Robinson and suspended sentences on two misdemeanor convictions, three years for transporting the handgun in his trunk and six months for impersonating a police officer. The judge also ordered that Robinson complete mental-health treatment.
Defense attorney David Weisgerber said Robinson is being treated for depression and had no malicious purpose for his deception. After retirement, he said, Robinson "had too much time on his hands. ... Bruce got too caught up in the fire police."
Weisgerber said Robinson, a native of Harrisburg, Pa., taught high school in Gettysburg after college and later earned a master's degree in education at Western Maryland College, now McDaniel College. He worked at Camp David for the National Park Service's Washington regional office, and then for the U.S. Department of Commerce from 1970 to 1995. Robinson had no prior criminal record, Weisgerber said.
Robinson apologized, and his voice shook as he said, "I am very embarrassed and very ashamed." He would not comment further after the court proceedings.
The prosecutor sought a one-day jail sentence, "just so he knows that's where he could wind up ... more of a jail tour." But Weisgerber argued that Robinson was in custody for 13 1/2 hours after his arrest and said, "I believe the message has been loud and clear."