Fake officer, real arrest

Man, 34, charged with pretending to be a policeman

March 08, 2006|By ANNIE LINSKEY | ANNIE LINSKEY,SUN REPORTER

A 34-year-old bail bondsman and grocery store security guard was charged in Anne Arundel County with impersonating an officer after an investigation that began when he allegedly used emergency lights to pull over another vehicle that contained two real policemen.

Karl Glenn Salenieks of the 1900 block of Cavalier Circle in Crofton also was charged with illegal possession of firearms by a convicted felon after police reportedly uncovered an arsenal of weapons -- including semiautomatic guns -- in his home.

Anne Arundel County police said they're looking for other drivers who might have been illegally pulled over by Salenieks, who police say also owned two police badges, a bulletproof vest and other law enforcement equipment.

"I'm hoping to get people to come forward ... so we can find out the extent of what he's been doing," said Detective Thomas P. Middleton, who investigated and arrested Salenieks. "He's pretending to be a police officer, and that scares me; that -- coupled with the arsenal that he had -- scares me."

Salenieks was taken into custody Sunday at Weis Market in the 2200 block of Blue Water Road in Odenton, where he was working as a security guard. When arrested, Salenieks was carrying the same equipment that is issued to Anne Arundel police officers: a baton, handcuffs, pepper spray and a .40-caliber Sig Sauer semiautomatic weapon, according to charging documents.

"I think he really wanted to be in law enforcement, and he's not," Middleton said.

Middleton searched Salenieks' house early Monday and found a loaded .50-caliber semiautomatic handgun, a Taser, an assault shotgun and a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun and a Prince George's County sheriff's badge, according to charging documents.

Middleton also searched Salenieks' car and found a Maryland Special Police badge, a bag marked "police," a bulletproof vest, handcuffs, holsters and an Anne Arundel County police T-shirt, according to the charging documents.

Salenieks could not be reached for comment yesterday. Kevin A. Falls, who owns Fallsway Security, a private security firm that employs Salenieks, said: "I've been advised to say no comment" and then hung up.

Meanwhile, the Maryland Insurance Administration launched an investigation yesterday into whether Salenieks lied about his criminal history on his 2001 application for a license to be a bail bondsman, said P. Todd Cioni, an associate commissioner with the administration.

Anne Arundel County police said they began investigating Salenieks in mid-February after the driver of a white Ford Crown Victoria flashed emergency lights and pulled behind Middleton and his partner, who were driving together in an unmarked police Jeep on Route 170.

"At first, I thought it was one of our guys," Middleton said. "And when the red and blue lights came on, I thought, `I guess this is a state trooper, he doesn't know who I am, and we're getting pulled over.'"

But Middleton was surprised when the driver of the car suddenly turned off the lights and sped off.

"It immediately set off a red flag," Middleton said. "If it was a real police officer, he would have gotten out of the car."

Middleton pulled back into traffic and stopped Salenieks, who was driving a white Crown Victoria registered to Fallsway Security, according to court documents.

Middleton noticed that Salenieks was wearing an empty gun holster and had a T-shirt with the official Anne Arundel County police seal hanging in the window on the rear passenger side of the car, according to the documents.

No citation was issued at the time. Instead, Middleton started an investigation and learned that there had been an earlier complaint of "a subject impersonating a police officer" connected to a Crown Victoria in Salenieks' neighborhood in July, according to charging documents.

Middleton said he has not been able to get in touch with the person who lodged this complaint. The charges against Salenieks don't reflect this incident.

The investigation also revealed that Salenieks had been convicted on two felony armed-robbery charges in Howard County in May 1989, which would make it illegal for him to own or carry a gun, according to charging documents.

Cioni, with the Maryland Insurance Administration, confirmed that his agency issued Salenieks a license to be a bail bondsman on April 18, 2001. The initial paperwork requires applicants to disclose criminal convictions, Cioni said.

A criminal conviction does not prevent an applicant from obtaining a license, but it does trigger an investigation, Cioni said. Cioni does not believe an investigation was ever done into Salenieks' history.

"We will go back and do some research on that one," Cioni said. "If you have lied on the application, it is general grounds for an immediately revocation" of the license, he said.

Lt. David D. Waltemeyer Jr., a county police spokesman, said anyone who suspects that he is being pulled over by a person impersonating a police officer can call 911 to check with a dispatcher.

Waltemeyer also said people being pulled over by a plainclothes officer can ask to see a police identification card and can request that a uniformed officer be dispatched to the stop.

Salenieks was charged with 12 offenses: five counts of impersonating a police officer, six weapons charges and one charge of possessing bulletproof armor. Bail was set at $200,000, and Salenieks was released Monday on bond, according to court documents.

annie.linskey@baltsun.com

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