INDIANAPOLIS - The man accused of impersonating a police officer pleaded not guilty to three charges in court Wednesday.
Minh Nguyen, 38, pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of impersonating a public servant and one count of felony theft.
Officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said Nguyen had previously been detained on suspicion that he was conducting traffic stops and he was investigated for a peeping tom incident involving a neighbor.
Police said they didn’t have the evidence to charge him, but experts say impersonating the police is a growing crime nationwide.
Nguyen doesn’t work for any police agency or possess any police powers, but investigators said that didn’t stop him from portraying himself as an officer of the law, misleading the public and his neighbors.
"He had a police badge. He would come out to his car, he had the whole uniform with the belt, and the Taser and the gun. I thought he was a cop ever since I've known him. It was interesting to find out he really wasn't," neighbor Kenneth Martinez said.
IMPD arrested Nguyen Thursday outside of IMPD Northwest District headquarters during the funeral of officer Rod Bradway.
Nguyen was in a uniform with patches that said State of Indiana Police. His car, a Dodge Charger had lights, a siren, police radios and a loaded assault rifle in the trunk, authorities said.
IMPD Capt. David Taylor said that Nguyen was the first employee he fired when he took over as the Perry Township constable.
Taylor said Nguyen was fired five days into this job for impersonating an officer to get onto the floor of the NCAA Championship to take pictures.
When IMPD searched Nguyen's house, they discovered a cache of high-powered weapons, thousands of rounds of ammunition, a grenade launcher, uniforms and badges from multiple police agencies.
Margie Keaton, a forensic psychologist at the University of Indianapolis called police impersonators not only a growing breed, but dangerous.
"It sounds like there might be a bit of a hero complex going on. It sounds like something very much interwoven into his personality. He wants the recognition. He wants the power. And he's not going to give it up without treatment." Keaton said.
Sources familiar with the investigation and Nguyen himself said that IMPD created a database to keep tabs on police impersonators.
The court will keep tabs on Nguyen when he makes his next appearance next month.
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