A man accused of impersonating an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in Northern Virginia plans to go to trial.
Itai Ozderman, 35, who worked in information technology at The Washington Post, appeared in court Monday on an indictment charging him with a felony and two misdemeanors related to officer impersonation. According to police and court documents, he convinced a Falls Church Police Department detective that he was a law enforcement officer on a federal task force.
Ozderman’s attorney, Bruce Blanchard, asked for a trial in September. He declined to comment on the case outside the hearing in Arlington Circuit Court.
Authorities said Ozderman formed a relationship with Falls Church Detective Jannie Clipp and was seen riding in Clipp’s car last September. But his presence made some on the force suspicious.
“We couldn’t wrap our mind around” why he would be there, Falls Church Police Chief Mary Gavin said in an interview. Ozderman was seen wearing a ballistic vest with an “ICE” placard and with a Baltimore County police badge, according to court records.
After investigating, supervisors in the office were unable to confirm Ozderman’s law enforcement credentials, Gavin said. So they alerted the FBI, she said, and agents likewise found no proof Ozderman worked in law enforcement.
“This is not a department that welcomed this guy; this was the conduct of an individual,” Gavin said. “He fooled an officer into thinking he was some type of local and federal agent.”
Clipp is currently on administrative leave.
Gavin said Ozderman was apparently inside the department a few times after hours, when there were not many officers around. But there is no evidence as yet that he handled department equipment.
The police chief said the department will look at “where things went wrong” as the investigation continues.
“That’s a scary combination — no training at all, this compulsion or obsession with the authority, not the responsibility, of police,” she said.
But she noted that internal department procedures also helped catch Ozderman.
In Ozderman’s home in Gaithersburg, police found a cache of guns, including two M4 assault-style 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.
None of that equipment belonged to the Falls Church police, Gavin said.
One of the Virginia charges against Ozderman, a misdemeanor, is for use of a police radio in commission of a felony.
Ozderman was arrested last month in Montgomery County. He was charged there with transporting a loaded handgun and possession of the police badge while not being a Baltimore County officer, court files state. That case also is pending.
After his arrest, 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. He was suspended by The Post after his arrest, one of his attorneys has said.
After Monday’s hearing, Circuit Court Judge Daniel S. Fiore II allowed Ozderman out on bond under the condition that he have no access to firearms, make no contact with the Falls Church Police Department in general or Clipp in particular, and stay away from Falls Church’s Eden Center and State Theater.
Kris Coratti, vice president for communications and events for The Post, declined to comment on Ozderman’s status with the company Tuesday, saying she could not discuss a personnel matter.
Dan Morse contributed to this report.