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article imageBizarre fake police force ends in arrest for Kamala Harris aide

By Megan Hamilton     May 8, 2015 in Crime
Santa Clarita - In a bizarre incident, an aide to California Attorney General Kamala Harris was arrested last week and has been charged with impersonating a police officer after allegedly playing a key part in establishing a fake police department.
According to CNN, Brandon Kiel, Harris' deputy director of community affairs was charged last week with several counts of impersonating a police officer and with misusing his government I.D. It's alleged that he played a key role in establishing a fake police department.
It's alleged that Kiel and two of his associates, David Henry and Tonette Hayes, claimed to represent the Masonic Fraternal Police Department (MFPD), an organization that purports it has ties to the ancient Knights Templar order.
David Henry  Tonette Hayes  Brandon Kiel.
David Henry, Tonette Hayes, Brandon Kiel.
KTLA 5 screen grab
Henry, Hayes, and Kiel had been allegedly traveling around the state introducing themselves to police agencies, The Los Angeles Times reports. It's not really clear why they were doing this, but on its website the rogue police force claims it has jurisdiction in 33 states and Mexico. It also claims it is connected to the Knights Templars, which it says goes back 3,000 years, and that therefore, it is supposedly the world's first police force.
"When asked what is the difference between the Masonic Fraternal Police Department and other police departments, the answer is simple for us. We were here first!" MFPD says on its website.
While the MFPD didn't exactly stay out of sight, it attracted little attention until its Los Angeles members began sending letters announcing their new police chief, The Sacramento Bee reports.
The bizarre case also involved phony badges, uniforms, and vehicles painted to look like police cars and it has baffled politicians as well as law officials. It's brought national attention to Democratic Senate candidate Harris, who is California's top law enforcement authority.
Sheriff's detectives say they think the three were trying to deceive the community regarding their status as law enforcement officials, but the detectives don't know why they were trying to do this. The detectives also said they believe there may be more people associated with the rogue police organization.
A spokesman for Harris said Kiel, who's a civil service employee, has been placed on administrative leave but offered no further comment about Kiel's role in the office.
"The attorney general has been concerned about these serious allegations from the point she was first briefed on the investigation," spokesman David Beltran said, per The Sacramento Bee. "Our office has been cooperating with investigators from the beginning and will continue to do so as the investigation unfolds."
Shortly after the letters were sent, law enforcement agencies say they began receiving calls from Henry, who identified himself as the "chief deputy director," boldly requesting meetings with agency police chiefs, The New York Daily News reports.
The three suspects baffled Los Angeles County Sheriff's Capt. Roosevelt Johnson when they strolled into the Santa Clarita station in February. Two of the people were dressed in police uniforms that he didn't recognize, the Los Angeles Times reports. One of the men, saying he was the chief of the MFPD, told Johnson this was a courtesy call to let him know the agency was opening up in the area.
Kiel did most of the talking, and told him that along with his police position, he worked for Harris. When Kiel departed, he left his card from the state Department of Justice.
The meeting lasted 45 minutes, Johnson told the Los Angeles Times, but it left him confused and thinking that something was up. So he ordered deputies to pull station surveillance video to obtain images of the visitors. Then he assigned detectives to check them out.
"It was an odd meeting," the captain recalled. "It just raised my suspicion level."
Henry often wore a "dark blue police uniform with badges and insignia on both arms," and told people he he was a police chief while handing out a business card, the Los Angeles Times reports.
"He carried himself like a cop, his uniform was spot on to a regular cop uniform, we all thought he was a legit cop," said a chef at a restaurant that Henry frequented often.
Kiel, Henry, and Hayes have been charged with impersonating a peace officer. Kiel is additionally charged with misuse of a government identification, and Henry was also charged with perjury under oath, the New York Daily News reports.
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