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For playing role of cop, forget the Oscar
By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
Published August 24, 2007
[Photo courtesy of Bay News 9]
This picture shows the back of a van used by Duane Todd Fuller who was charged with false impersonation of a law enforcement officer.
Duane Todd Fuller, 40, was arrested on a charge of impersonating an officer
NEW PORT RICHEY - Duane Todd Fuller was arrested Wednesday on a charge of impersonating a law enforcement officer.
No one, however, accused him of succeeding at it.
Perhaps it was the old silver Ford minivan with the siren that witnesses said he used Aug. 15 to pull over a car along U.S. 19.
The minivan had no emergency lights, witnesses said, but it did have blue and red bike reflectors affixed to the front and back of the van.
The vehicle also bore "Caution K-9" and "Child Protection" and "Homeland Security" stickers, witnesses said.
Or maybe it was the mismatched uniform witnesses described. The black shirt with "Homeland Security" patches and blue pants. The gold badge and medals. The "Police" baseball cap. The police-style belt, but no gun.
Kevin Fortunato, who spent 15 years in law enforcement, has his own favorite details.
"The bicycle reflectors on a '93 Windstar Ford van with a handicap tag," he told the Pasco Times on Thursday, "and to kick it off - are you ready for this? - There were children in his van."
Said Pasco County Sheriff's Office spokesman Doug Tobin: "He Fuller was doing a poor job."
Fortunato, Mike Casanova and Jason Donahue are the salesmen at Hyundai of New Port Richey credited with the arrest. They confronted Fuller during the Aug. 15 traffic stop outside the dealership, after the unknown driver he pulled over drove off.
They said Fuller, 40, told them he was from Ohio and worked for a Homeland Security task force.
He looked nervous as they questioned him, the salesmen said, then drove off - but not before they got his tag, which they gave to authorities.
It may not have been Fuller's first time on faux patrol. A woman reported that a van with the same tag, and a man matching Fuller's description pulled her over Sept. 29. He threatened her, she said, after she refused to get out.
Fuller is also accused of similarly equipping a blue Mustang with law enforcement stickers, a siren and reflectors.
After his arrest Wednesday outside his 2726 Blossom Lake Drive home in Holiday, the sheriff's report said, Fuller said he used to be a reserve deputy with the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office in Michigan.
"He then started sobbing and stated he really missed the job," the report said. "He also stated he was trying to do good and to help out law enforcement."
Official records paint a different picture. In 2004 he finished serving probation for out of state charges including aggravated battery, according to the Department of Corrections.
In 2001 he was arrested in Pasco on charges of domestic battery and tampering with a witness, accused of assaulting and trapping his then-girlfriend.
She obtained a protective order in 2001, court records show, and in 2005 so did Fuller's current wife.
The Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office said it has no record that Duane Fuller worked there, but it doesn't keep records on reserve deputies, who are trained but unpaid volunteers.
Fuller told Pasco deputies he works with his wife's business, Child Shield. But neither works for Child Shield, USA, a for-profit Arizona company with local agents across the country that help locate missing children.
"He's impersonating all kinds of people," president John Raskob said.
Times staff photographer David Degner and researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Jamal Thalji can be reached at (727) 869-6236 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone with information about Duane Fuller is asked to call the Pasco County Sheriff's Office Crime Tips Line at 1-800-706-2488. Anyone who wants to file a complaint against Fuller may call the Sheriff's Office at 1-800-854-2862.
If you're suspicious about a law enforcement vehicle pulling you over, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office offers these tips:
- Drive slowly and stop at a public place. If it's night, pull over in a lighted area.
- If you're pulled over by an unmarked vehicle, crack your window a bit and tell the officer you'd like a marked vehicle to come to your location.