Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
A Racine man who admitted he posed as a federal drug agent said he did so to try to impress a woman he'd known in high school and maybe get her to go out with him.
But neither she nor a federal appeals court found his actions to be innocent.
According to court records, Jeremy Wade, 30, went to the woman's home in early 2018. He was wearing a fake badge around his neck and a gun in a holster. He said he was looking for a suspect and showed her a mug shot.
She said she didn't know or recognize the suspect. Wade, still acting as a DEA agent, asked her if she remembered him, and she said she did recall him from high school.
About a week later, he left a fake DEA business card in the woman's mailbox, with a note on the back explaining he'd forgotten to leave her a way to get in touch.
"So if something comes to mind about the guy I was looking for or most importantly, if you realize, 'hey, it’s time I let this guy take me out,' all my info is on the front. Text any time!!"
Instead, the woman called police, who opened a stalking investigation and questioned Wade, who was ultimately indicted on charges of impersonating a federal officer.
Prosecutors offered no deal to a lesser charge, so Wade, who had no prior criminal record, went to trial. The judge denied him permission to argue that he had no intent to defraud anyone.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision, saying that no matter the reason, impersonating a Drug Enforcement Administration agent is a felony — and Wade should not be allowed to try to convince the jury that his motivations made his crime any less serious.
"A defendant has no right to argue for the jury to disregard the law," the court wrote in its decision.
The jury convicted Wade of two counts. U.S. District Judge Pamela Pepper sentenced him to 45 days in jail. The offense carries a maximum penalty of three years.
Wade appealed and again argued that he didn't intend to defraud anyone through his impersonation.
But the 7th Circuit explained that Wade not only claimed to be an agent, he acted like one in ways that conveyed authority and likely made the woman do things she wouldn't have done otherwise — like open her door to a man appearing without notice, and answer his questions about the fake suspect.
Contact Bruce Vielmetti at (414) 224-2187 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ProofHearsay.