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More charges filed against man accused of impersonating a police officer

By JEREMY ARIAS | The Frederick News-Post, Md. | Published: June 8, 2018

FREDERICK, Md. (Tribune News Service) — More charges filed this week against a Frederick man accused of impersonating a police officer last month indicate he may have been trying to impress a woman.

Miguel Angel Ralda, 39, was initially charged with impersonating a police officer and three counts of transporting a handgun in a vehicle at 9 p.m. May 23 when a deputy pulled Ralda over for driving with flashing blue LED lights in his car near the Hanover development. Deputies found four guns in Ralda's trunk, along with fake badges and police paraphernalia, according to previous stories by The Frederick News-Post.

While deputies were warned about a potential police impersonator in the area before Ralda's arrest, charges were not filed until after investigators looked into Ralda's activities leading up to his arrest.

The first deputies heard about Ralda was from a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who indicated that Ralda had been presenting himself as an ATF investigator at a gym in the 5800 block of Ballenger Creek Pike, according to charges served Monday in county district court.

Ralda first visited the gym May 14 wearing what gym staff originally took to be a real law enforcement badge on his belt, according to the documents.

Ralda asked about a membership and, during a tour of the gym with a female employee, he repeatedly referred to serving tours overseas with the Army as well as his current job as "an officer for the ATF." Ralda also paid frequent "personal compliments" to the employee, the documents state.

After his arrest, Ralda told detectives that he had first seen the gym employee while walking his dog sometime before he entered the gym May 14. Ralda said he wore the fake badge to impress the woman.

"She's the reason I signed up [to the gym]," Ralda said, according to court documents detailing his interviews with deputies. "Because I saw her through the window."

Based on two of Ralda's visits to the gym on May 14 and 16, sheriff's deputies charged Ralda with two more counts of impersonating a police officer. A summons served on Ralda earlier this week cited surveillance footage of both visits that show Ralda clearly wearing belt-clip badges and displaying other police items.

Frederick County sheriff's deputies also received several phone calls about Ralda after media reports were published May 24 regarding his arrest.

Tips from the phone calls led investigators to the Spartan Tactical & Police Supply store in Frederick, according to another summons issued Wednesday with even more charges.

When contacted by sheriff's deputies, store employees identified Ralda as a frequent customer, confirming that he had visited the store at least eight times to make purchases between late April and the day of his arrest, according to the summons.

Because Ralda wore a badge and presented himself as a police officer, he benefited from the store's 10 percent discount for law enforcement officers during his visits, the employees told deputies.

The summons, which had not been served as of Thursday, included eight more counts of impersonating a police officer against Ralda based on his purchases from the supply store.

Receipts kept at the store revealed Ralda spent between $650 and $700 on clothing, patches, handcuffs and an extendable baton. Ralda received a total of $71.99 in discounts for his various purchases, the summons states.

In interviews with sheriff's deputies, Ralda claimed he was a top secret-cleared cyber intelligence analyst for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a "special police officer" at a retirement community and a former infantryman in the Army, according to the court documents.

A background check with Army officials revealed that, while Ralda did serve in the infantry in the early 2000s, he had been medically discharged and had never served as a law enforcement officer for the Army.

Ralda is employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to James Hutton, a deputy assistant secretary in the department's Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs.

"Mr. Ralda is employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs as a management analyst for our Office of Information and Technology," Hutton wrote in an email response to The Frederick News-Post's questions Thursday. "[Ralda] is not a cyber analyst and VA does not have a 'cyber command.'"

In total, Ralda was charged with 11 counts of impersonating a police officer and three handgun offenses, according to online court records. He remained held without bail in the Frederick County Adult Detention Center on Thursday.

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