An IT worker at The Washington Post impersonated a federal law enforcement officer in Northern Virginia and was seen wearing a ballistic vest bearing the label “ICE” across the front, according to police allegations filed in Montgomery County District Court.
Itai Ozderman, 35, of Gaithersburg was suspended by The Post on Monday, his attorney Thomas Degonia said.
Ozderman has not been charged with impersonating a federal officer, Degonia said. But the FBI continues to probe his actions, according to police officials in Falls Church, Va., and to Maryland court records.
As part of the investigation into Ozderman, a Montgomery County SWAT team and FBI agents searched his home two weeks ago just before 6 a.m. They found a cache of guns, including two M4 assault rifles, court records show. Officers also searched a Volkswagen Jetta used by Ozderman and found a loaded Sig Sauer semiautomatic handgun, as well as a Baltimore County police badge, a police radio and tactical vests, court records show.
Those alleged discoveries led to two charges against him: transporting a loaded handgun and possession of the police badge while not being a Baltimore County officer, the court files state.
Kris Coratti, vice president for communications and events for The Post, said, “We are aware of it and are looking into it.”
The case against Ozderman was reported earlier Monday by WJLA-7 in Washington.
“At this point, all indications are that the weapons were purchased and possessed legally,” Degonia said.
He declined to comment on the police assertions about impersonating law enforcement. “At this point these are allegations, and he enjoys the presumption of innocence,” Degonia said.
After his arrest two weeks ago in Montgomery County, Ozderman listed his occupation as an “IT Engineer” at The Post and said he had worked there for two years, according to the court records.
Authorities in Northern Virginia became concerned about Ozderman’s alleged activities going back to late last year, according to court records. Susan Finarelli, a spokeswoman for the Falls Church Police Department, said officers there determined Ozderman was impersonating an ICE officer and turned the matter over the FBI. She declined to comment further.
An arrest warrant filed Feb. 22 in Montgomery District Court describes some of the events leading to Ozderman’s arrest.
In the warrant, a Montgomery detective said his agency was contacted by the FBI, asking for help putting together a search warrant for Ozderman’s residence in Gaithersburg.
An “investigation determined that Itai Ozderman was impersonating a federal law enforcement officer and a local law enforcement [officer] in the Falls Church, Va., area,” Montgomery police wrote in court papers. “Ozderman was seen wearing a ballistic vest with an ‘ICE’ placard across the front of his chest. ICE stands for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. . . . Ozderman was also seen with a Baltimore County Police badge. It was also reported that Ozderman was enforcing or attempting to enforce criminal laws.”
A Montgomery detective determined Ozderman had never been a Baltimore County officer. Ozderman also told detectives he had never been a law enforcement officer with any agency, court records show.