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FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2007
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False officer stops cars for drug search, deputy says

By Seth Burkett
sburkett@decaturdaily.com 340-2355

DANVILLE — Dressed in civilian clothes and a visor with "Sheriff" embroidered on the bill, a Lawrence County man carried his charade as a cop to extremes when he shook down one of the drivers he pulled over for drugs Thursday afternoon, said Morgan County Chief Deputy Mike Corley.

Corley said the sheriff's office received complaints that Tom Ethan Wiley, 30, of 6490 Lawrence County 205, Danville, was stopping cars and claiming to be a sheriff's deputy.

"Here's a guy with a visor cap on that says, 'Sheriff,' and a sleeveless shirt. They didn't think that looked right. And the car he was driving, a white Cadillac — I guess he was deep undercover," Corley said.

"The one that we got him on, he accused (the driver) of coming out of a drug house. He actually got him out and did a shakedown on him in an attempt find drugs," he said.

Investigator Terry Kelly said he arrested Wiley on a charge of impersonating a police officer after he tried to pull the same stunt on a real deputy.

Deputy Joel Thomas didn't buy it when Wiley showed him the visor and told him he was "...working for Lawrence County," Kelly said.

Thomas asked for a badge and ID card, but Wiley couldn't produce any credentials.

It turned out Wiley was not only not a policeman, he was a suspected criminal. Decatur police wanted him on an outstanding felony warrant for second-degree theft of services.

Corley said the investigation into Wiley's activities isn't over and there may be more arrests in the offing.

"We believe he stopped cars in Lawrence County, and we think he stopped at least two more in Danville," Corley said.

"We'll get a search warrant (today) for his vehicle, which we have impounded. We don't know whether he had flashing lights or some sort of device like that. We'll be seeing if he has any lights that he's not authorized to have," he said.

Wiley was booked into Morgan County Jail, where he remained late Thursday in lieu of $750 bond, with a hold placed on his release by Decatur police. Impersonating a police officer is a Class C Felony.

"The moral of this story," Kelly said, "is don't tell the police you're the police if you're not."

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