LAWRENCEVILLE -- A north Georgia man is facing a felony charge more than two months after a Gwinnett traffic stop in which he allegedly pretended to be affiliated with two different sheriff's departments. His arrest, officials said, might have been avoided if he hadn't filed a complaint against the officers who pulled him over.
Eugene Frank Caporale, 57, was arrested Monday and charged with impersonating an officer. According to warrants filed by Gwinnett County police, Caporale was the passenger during a June 8 traffic stop near the Mall of Georgia.
The Dodge Charger driven by his daughter had windows tinted too darkly, police spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter said, and the license plate was registered to another car. During the stop, Caporale presented himself as a former police officer in Washington state, producing a badge and ID card.
That part checked out -- except for the ID card, which Washington authorities requested back, Ritter said -- but Caporale also purported himself as being affiliated with the White County coroner and sheriff's offices, as well as the Habersham County Sheriff's Office.
Aside from a few citations, Gwinnett officers were going to let the alleged lies slide, Ritter said. That was until Caporale filed a complaint against the officers, saying the traffic stop was unnecessarily long at about three hours. Ritter said the stop was about 75 minutes long.
"There were a lot of things that extended the traffic stop," Ritter said, citing a firearm in the car and the odd nature of the vehicle, which he said had a police-style fleet numbers on it, a mounted spotlight and a "police console" between the front seats.
One of the officers from the stop was eventually assigned to the professional standards investigation against Caporale. Police said Caporale told that sergeant and another investigator "a bunch of claims and statements that were untrue."
Officials at all of the north Georgia agencies he claimed to work with "knew of him, but none of them ever worked with him," Ritter said.
Caporale reportedly admitted to investigators that we was federally indicted on fraud charges in Washington state, but said he had been cleared.
Gwinnett County jail records show Caporale was released Tuesday on $5,700 bond.
"Had he just left it alone and moved on," Ritter said, "it never would have come to this point."