Cops suspected he shoplifted an iPhone. Then they saw his U.S. Marshals pin and badge.

Cops bust man impersonating federal agent in Palm Beach county

The Boynton Beach Police Department arrest a man for impersonating a federal agent on March 21, 2018.
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The Boynton Beach Police Department arrest a man for impersonating a federal agent on March 21, 2018.

A Florida man tried to get away with shoplifting an iPhone Wednesday by telling police he was a U.S. Marshal, Boynton Beach police say. He even showed cops a belt badge with “Marshal” that went with his U.S. Marshal lapel pin.

But, a few questions later, 61-year-old John O’Grady was under arrest for retail theft and impersonating a law enforcement officer.

According to the probable cause affidavit, employees at the 550 N. Congress Ave. Best Buy saw O’Grady pilfering an iPhone 10 days earlier, but hadn’t completed a report. Upon seeing him back in the store Wednesday, they called police to issue O’Grady a trespass warning. Arriving cops found a man in a tie and a gray business suit with a U.S. Marshals lapel pin.

John O'Grad_fitted
John O’Grady Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office

What happened next was caught on police body camera.

Cops asked O’Grady if he had a firearm, he told them about a gun on his hip. So, they asked if he was a police officer, to which O’Grady said, “I am not” while pulling back his suit jacket to better display the badge on his belt.

Boynton Beach officer: “What are you?”

O’Grady: “A federal marshal.”

Asked if he had his federal marshal ID, O’Grady said he didn’t, to which a Boynton Beach officer said, “So you’re carrying a weapon and you have no ID on you?”

OGrady replied, “I just stepped out of the house to get this.”

When O’Grady couldn’t give them a number for his supervisor, his subterfuge quickly began to crumble. Officers took the gun off his hip and began to handcuff O’Grady, who asked, “For what?”

“Until we figure out what’s going on. You have a weapon, you have no ID on you —”

“It’s not a real weapon.”

“You’re carrying a fake weapon? And you’re a federal marshal?”

“No,” O’Grady admitted.

After officers congratulated him on admitting to the felonious impersonation, O’Grady claimed he didn’t know what he’d done was illegal. The gun turned out to be a Powerline Daisy 426 BB gun. Police say when they searched O’Grady’s car, they found an iPhone 10 on the passenger seat with matching serial numbers to the one shoplifted days before.

O’Grady denied stealing the phone. It would fit with his past, which includes convictions for burglary, grand theft and petit theft.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal