A Tampa man is facing felony charges after being accused of impersonating a police officer on Interstate 75.
Earl Mitchell Cesario, 62, was arrested by the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) on October 22 after a motorist reported that a man driving a red GMC pickup truck had attempted to pull him over using red and blue flashing lights.
The driver said the man sped off after overtaking him and aggressively signaling for him to pull over on the side of the road.
An FHP trooper immediately responded to the report and located the red GMC pickup in question not far from the scene of the incident.
Inside the vehicle, the trooper discovered a set of red and blue flashing lights, as well as a handgun.
Apparently, the lights were capable of being activated when plugged into two cigarette lighters.
The cigarette lighters had also been tampered with, as they were found to have been opened before the trooper tested the lights.
Cesario was subsequently arrested and taken to the Sumter County jail without further incident.
Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County said that such impersonations could have serious ramifications.
“That will not only get you in trouble, it will get you a trip to the county jail because we will arrest you and then we’ll take your red lights and blue lights to use them as evidence later,” Judd said.
Judd also shed light on the motivations behind individuals impersonating police officers.
“Sometimes, to rip people off, to rob them. Other times they are wannabe cops. They can’t be cops because they have a screw loose. So, instead they pretend to be cops, they find old police cars, they try to put red lights or blue lights forward, they try to stop people,” Judd explained.
In this case, Cesario now faces felony charges for impersonating a police officer, an offense that has serious legal consequences.
It was also revealed that Cesario was wearing a Rob Gronkowski Buccaneers jersey during his attempt to impersonate law enforcement.
According to the FHP, Cesario was charged with False Personation of Officials in Sumter County as a result of his actions.
The FHP trooper who apprehended Cesario spoke with the suspect, who claimed to have had the red and blue lights mounted on his dashboard but insisted that he had never activated them.