Photos courtesy LASD.
Photos courtesy LASD.

An employee of the state Department of Justice was on administrative leave Wednesday following his arrest, along with two other people, on suspicion of impersonating peace officers while claiming they were descendants of the Knights Templar.

According to the sheriff’s department, letters from the “Masonic Fraternal Police Department” were sent to chiefs of various Southern California law enforcement agencies in late January, advising them that a man named David Henry had been elected as chief.

The agencies then began receiving calls from an individual who identified himself as Chief Deputy Director Brandon Kiel, and who requested a meeting with each agency’s chief.

Detectives from the sheriff’s department became involved when a meeting was scheduled with Capt. Roosevelt Johnson of the sheriff’s Santa Clarita Valley Station.

During Johnson’s meeting, his suspicions were aroused when the representatives could not answer questions about the Masonic Fraternal Police Department’s jurisdiction and overall department mission.

The group claimed they were descendents of the “Knights Templar” and their agency had been in existence for 3,000 years. It claimed sovereign jurisdictions in 33 states and in Mexico.

Sheriff’s detectives conducted an investigation in collaboration with several other law enforcement agencies and determined the Masonic Fraternal Police Department was not a legitimate police agency.

Search and arrest warrants were served last week in the 28000 block of Linda Vista Street and the 17000 block of Sierra Highway, both in Santa Clarita. Badges, identification cards, weapons, uniforms, police-type vehicles and other law enforcement equipment were found in the search.

On Thursday, authorities arrested Brandon Kiel, 31, of Los Angeles; and David Henry, 46, and Tonette Hayes, 56, both of Santa Clarita. All three posted bail and were released the same day, according to the sheriff’s department.

Kiel “works at the Department of Justice, but is on administrative leave,” Kristin Ford, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Kamala Harris, said. “We cannot comment on the ongoing personnel matter or criminal investigation.”

Kiel is a deputy director of community affairs at the state agency.

Kiel was booked on suspicion of impersonating a peace officer and misuse of a government identification. Henry was booked on suspicion of impersonating a peace officer and perjury under oath. Hayes was booked on suspicion of Impersonating a peace officer.

“Detectives believe these three suspects were attempting to deceive individuals in the community as to their status as law enforcement officials for a purpose yet to be determined,” a sheriff’s statement said.

Authorities believe other people may be involved in the suspects’ organization, and urged anyone with information on the case to call Detective Amalia Hernandez at (323) 980-2211, or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.

City News Service

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