Niagara Gazette

April 22, 2014

'Phony' traffic stop was legitimate, sheriff says

Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — A man who initiated an after-midnight traffic stop on a woman's vehicle earlier this month — and prompted the driver to report her suspicion about a police impersonator — turned out to be a federal law enforcement agent "working in his official capacity," the Niagara County Sheriff's Office announced Monday.

The woman said she was followed closely and passed by a pickup, then was pulled over around 12:45 a.m. April 6 on Ewings Road, by the same pickup with emergency lights activated. She said she was questioned by a man who said he was with "road patrol" and asked several times whether she had been drinking. The man took her license back to his truck for about five minutes before returning it to her and urging her to "be careful."

Several hours after the encounter the woman called the sheriff's office, relayed the story and said she didn't think the man was really a police officer. The sheriff's office checked the woman's license plate history and determined that her vehicle had not been called in as having been stopped by any police officer on that date.

The man who initiated that traffic stop is a federal officer who was on the job at the time, Undersheriff Michael Filicetti said. The agent saw the "phony road patrol encounter reported" story in several newspapers and notified the sheriff's office that he was the man in question.

Details on which federal agency was involved and what the agency was doing in the area were not available, Filicetti said.

The agent did identify himself properly to the woman, Filicetti added, noting that the woman may have been nervous and not heard him. The traffic stop was "justified," the sheriff's office said in a Monday news release.