By Dave Rogers
---- — AMESBURY — A Haverhill man who did such a good job of pretending to be a police officer that a real one was momentarily fooled could spend as much as a year behind bars if convicted of impersonating a law enforcement official.
Robert A. Webb, 42, 70 Presidential Drive, Bradford, was arraigned last Friday a day after his arrest inside the Route 110 McDonald’s. He was charged with impersonating a police officer, possession of burglarious tools, a red/blue light violation, a previous warrant and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license.
He is being held on $500 cash bail and is due back Oct. 4 for a pretrial hearing at Newburyport District Court.
Webb had modified a 1999 Ford Crown Victoria with a siren, front strobe lights, a front push bar used to protect the front grille, clear lights on the rear of the car and many antennas attached to its trunk, police alleged.
According to the report of officer Jonathan Morrill, he was heading toward Main Street on Route 110, when he saw what he thought was an unmarked state police cruiser activate its front lights in an attempt to pull over a motorist near the Route 110 McDonald’s. Morrill activated his blue lights and reversed direction so that he could assist what he thought was a state trooper.
But as Morrill drove past the suspect’s vehicle, he noticed the Crown Victoria was in poor condition, quickly raising his suspicions. Also catching his eye was the suspect’s beard, something not generally worn by state troopers. By the time he had reversed direction, Webb had left the scene.
After being joined by officer Craig Lesage, the two spotted the car inside the McDonald’s parking lot. As they walked closer to the restaurant, they saw a man staring at them from inside the building. Upon entering the restaurant, the same man continued to stare at them, and police noticed his table was clear, according to Morrill’s report.
Police began questioning the suspect, who admitted to police that he had pulled over another motorist. He told police that the other driver had cut him off while inside the nearby Stop & Shop parking lot and pulled him over to scare him straight. Police quickly learned Webb had a previous warrant and placed him into custody without issue.
A search of the suspect’s vehicle resulted in the seizure of a pellet gun, black mask, black hat and gloves rolled up into a hoodie sweater.
“Which are consistent to tools for armed robberies, burglarious and other serious crimes,” Morrill wrote in his report.
Amesbury police Chief Kevin Ouellet said he didn’t know what prompted Webb to stop another motorist but added in some cases drug dealers pretend to be police officers hoping to rip off competitors.