Two men and a woman were arrested on suspicion of impersonating police officers, the sheriff’s department said, but detectives have not determined their motive.
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 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, 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 they 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 Wednesday in the 28000 block of Linda Vista Street and the 17000 block of Sierra Highway, both in Santa Clarita.
Henry, 46, and Tonette Hayes, 56, both of Santa Clarita and Kiel, 36, of Los Angeles were arrested. Badges, identification cards, weapons, uniforms, police-type vehicles and other law enforcement equipment were found in the search.
Henry was arrested on suspicion of perjury and impersonating a police officer, Hayes on suspicion of impersonating a police officer and Kiel on suspicion of impersonating a peace officer and misuse of government identification.
Investigators also believe other individuals may be associated with this bogus department, authorities said.