Matthew Johnston, of Fontana, California, led everyone around him to believe he was an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, but that was far from the truth.
Johnston, a 26 year old man, certainly dressed and looked the part, donning ICE uniforms, adding police lights to his personal car, among other things that lended validity to Johnson’s image. This fallacy went on for an extended period of time.
Prosecutors noted that Johnston’s impersonation of a federal agent led to dangerous situations, exemplified by a collision caused by his ‘pursuing’ of another vehicle. They also noted that he has used this false position to obtain information about undocumented individuals.
Johnston’s impersonation was eventually discovered through his girlfriend of two months, who had mistakenly turned on the police lights while driving his car and was pulled over. She told the responding officer that the car belonged to Johnston, her boyfriend, who worked for Homeland Security. The officer confirmed this with Johnston, and told the girlfriend to remove the lights and drive off. Yet, when the officer checked with the local ICE office, they had no record of Johnston ever being employed with them, which triggered an ICE investigation into Johnston himself.
Court records show that the officer was shown pictures of Johnston’s handguns, handcuffs, and his ‘ICE’ badge, which denoted his ‘level two’ security clearance. As a result, law enforcement, both local and federal, obtained warrants to search Johnston’s home, where they discovered upwards of 30 firearms, approximately 10,000 rounds of ammunition, and other homemade bombs, rockets, and launchers. Using cellphone coordinates from Johnston’s travels, they also found additional homemade explosives. He eventually pleaded guilty to possession of an unregistered destructive device, and was sentenced to 24 months in prison.
As reported by McClatchy, Johnston claimed to have developed this story “…because his ex-wife had insulted him in front of his daughter and told his daughter that he had done nothing with his life.” He said he decided to continue the ruse “to show everyone that he was ‘somebody’ and had done something with his life,” according to court records.
[Image via screengrab]