GLOUCESTER — A Seabrook, New Hampshire, man faces multiple charges after police stopped the truck he was driving for not having a license plate and he claimed to be an undercover officer.
John Peter Witham, 52, was arrested Wednesday at 8:48 a.m. by Gloucester police. He faces charges of carrying a firearm without a license, driving a motor vehicle without a license, possession of Class B drugs, receiving a stolen motor vehicle, and receiving stolen property worth more than $12,000.
The arrest came after a large, brown 10-wheel dump truck passed an officer on traffic duty near 171 Atlantic Road. The truck did not have a registration plate fixed to its rear so the officer stopped it on Atlantic Road near Land’s End Lane.
The officer reported that as he approached the truck’s open window, the driver — later identified as Witham — said he was a first sergeant in the U.S. Army and that the president of the United States authorized him to put a veteran plate on the truck.
At this point, the officer said in a report he “knew there was something amiss, and asked him if there were any weapons in the truck.” The driver said no.
The officer then asked for a registration and license. Witham told the officer he did not have a license with him and provided a New Hampshire license number, but the dispatch center was unable to find a valid license for him.
Witham reportedly told the officer he had 10 trucks and his girlfriend was responsible for registering them but “she smokes a lot of weed and so her brain is fried.”
Witham then told officers that he works undercover for the Seabrook Police Department and had just taken down a lot of drug dealers. Police asked him to step out of the truck, where officers saw a black holster with a small handgun inside. The gun was loaded with a full clip and a bullet in the chamber, police said.
Gloucester police contacted police in Seabrook, who reported that Witham was the suspect in the theft of a Taurus .380 handgun from their city Tuesday night. Seabrook police also had received a report of a stolen 10-wheel dump truck, which Gloucester police say was the same one Witham was driving.
Further investigation showed that Witham had prescription pill bottles with kinds of pills, police said.