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Man pleads guilty to impersonating officer in Morgan

By Sheryl Marsh 340-2437

A man who presented himself as a police officer to enter a woman's apartment after overhearing a domestic dispute, pleaded guilty to charges that stemmed from the unlawful entry.

Dustin Andrew Branton, 25, of Kingston, Ga., pleaded guilty to burglary, theft, sexual abuse and impersonating a peace officer in Morgan County Circuit Court.

Authorities said Branton was selling magazines at Wheeler Estate Apartments when he impersonated the officer in November 2005.

Decatur Det. Jeremy Hayes said at the time that Branton overheard a woman and man arguing and barged into the apartment, identifying himself as a police officer.

In court this week, Assistant District Attorney Brent Craig stated information about the case.

Craig said Branton told the woman's boyfriend to leave the apartment and not to return. Craig said Branton told the woman that he handled domestic situations at the apartment complex for his sister who was manager of the apartments.

After the boyfriend left, Craig said Branton told the woman he was staying with her to make sure he did not return.

Branton left the apartment and returned 20 minutes later. He told the woman that his sister planned to evict her, but he would intervene.

Craig said Branton left again and returned. This time he asked the woman to remove her clothes so that he could search for bruises. The woman said she would rather a female officer do that so Branton pretended to call one.

When no female officer arrived, Branton convinced her to remove certain garments and he touched her breast, Craig said.

Craig said the woman asked to see his badge. Branton told her that he left it in his car in Madison. He said he had been out to a club drinking the night before and left his car there.

Drove him to vehicle

Ultimately, the woman drove him to a vehicle in Madison and left him at a vehicle in a hotel parking lot, Craig said. A magazine brochure fell out of his pocket as he got out of the victim's car. She called police and they tracked Branton through the brochure and learned that he sold magazines.

Prior to pleading guilty, Branton had been free on bond, however, Circuit Judge Sherrie Paler increased the bond from $1,250 to $10,000. A deputy took him to the county jail. He is free on bond.

Paler scheduled sentencing for Feb. 15.

He now lives in Reno with wife who is expecting a child, according to his lawyer.

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