Three Tampa Bay Area men arrested for impersonation - WFLA News Channel 8

Three Tampa Bay Area men arrested for impersonation

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ST. PETERSBURG, FL (WFLA) -

Two pretend deputies and a fake firefighter are facing charges this week in unrelated impersonation cases.  Investigators said imposters are a threat to themselves and the public.

"People often do it for personal gain, for this emotional benefit of appearing to be somebody that they aren't in order to get what whatever they perceive the benefits to be," said Directions for Living President and CEO April Lott.

Temple Terrace Police arrested security guard Daniel Rangel, 22, Monday for trying to pass himself off as a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Deputy. Investigators said Rangel was carrying a handgun in a tactical-style thigh holster and was wearing black cargo pants and a shirt embroidered with a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office emblem. Rangel allegedly approached officers in a white Crown Victoria and spoke with them about possible criminal activity in the area.

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office announced the arrest of Christopher Sharp, 37, the next day. Deputies said the pizza delivery driver stole a Pasco County Sheriff's deputy uniform and pretended to be a law enforcement officer to impress his girlfriend and friends.

Then Wednesday, Robert Spalla, 22, was arrested for impersonating a St. Petersburg firefighter. Spokesman Lt. Joel Granata said Spalla would wear fire department T-shirts and jumpsuits with firefighter patches while visiting a sick relative at All Children's Hospital.  People there got suspicious when Spalla asked for free food, drinks, and gas cards, he said.

"He looked at firefighters as heroes and he was excited every time he put the shirt on," said Lt. Granata. "We don't want to be portrayed in a bad light like we're going out there asking for something for free when we're not. It's certainly not professional."

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