MILLERSVILLE, Md. — A man impersonating an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer extorted money from Hispanic-owned businesses, Anne Arundel County officials said Friday.
The police department and county officials held a press conference Friday to discuss the impersonator. Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman, and Multicultural Affairs Officer for Anne Arundel County Sergio Polanco were at the news conference.
The suspect, identified as Christopher Jefferson, was extorting money from businesses, particularity businesses that are Hispanic-owned, police said.
Jefferson was using the name "Christopher Tate" to hide his true identity, police said.
Jefferson was "going to mostly Hispanic-owned businesses, presenting himself as a detective or an agent of a federal authority, and soliciting money for a charity that he was running from these businesses," Anne Arundel County police Sgt. Jacklyn Davis said. He identified his charity as "TSI Trinity Syndicates Impact."
"Detectives were able to locate a couple victim business owners who gave several statements to detectives," Davis said. "One of which that said he had been talking with Mr. Tate, Christopher Tate, about this charity and Mr. Tate was saying that 'Hey, look, I can give you different tax breaks, I can help you with your business permit, I can do all of these things for you if you give me money.’"
Another victims came forward and said Tate had identified himself as a member of ICE, and this led them to fear immigration repercussions if they did not give money to this charity.
"Another victim stated that she would not have given this man money if she knew that he was not a member of a federal agency or law enforcement," Davis said. "So Tate was using these public events and taking pictures with officers as well as public officials at community events showing them to these business owners to try to legitimize this scheme that he was running."
Jefferson was able to extort tens of thousands of dollars from "unsuspecting business owners," police said.
Altomare said Jefferson has a history of doing similar events in the past.
"We work so hard to make sure that this badge and patch bring positivity, calm to chaos, safety to violence, and service to everyone. That I’m having a hard time assimilating as I go through this thing, how a human being could do this," Altomare said.
Jefferson is scheduled for court on Oct. 22.