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Cops: Habitual police poser arrested

BUFORD -- A Florida man's habit of posing as law enforcement landed him in the Gwinnett County Jail on felony charges this week, officials said.

A former police chaplain, Richard Goodstein, 64, was arrested Tuesday by Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department deputies on charges of impersonating an officer.

A Gwinnett police officer reportedly spotted Goodstein swerving in a silver Chevy Impala and pulled him over on Interstate 85 south, near Hamilton Mill Road, about 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 5.

Goodstein handed over a wallet with a badge and claimed to be an off-duty officer. He also handed over a police chaplain identity card from the Plantation Police Department with the word "retired" taped to it, and another ID card that read: "International Critical Incident Response Team Chaplain," according to a Gwinnett police report.

The latter card "appeared to me to be homemade," an officer wrote. "It was not professional at all."

Goodstein claimed he'd been swerving because he was chatting on his phone. The officer tried to verify his employment as an officer -- and the legitimacy of the other agency -- but wasn't able to that night, the report states.

The officer let Goodstein go with a verbal warning for failure to maintain lane, but later obtained an arrest warrant after hearing from police officials in Florida.

"(Goodstein) is not, and never was, a police officer," Plantation Police Department spokesman Detective Philip Toman told the Daily Post on Friday.

Another official at the Florida department told Gwinnett police that Goodstein had been released from his volunteer chaplain position because he kept impersonating law enforcement.

In a 2003 feature story, Goodstein told the South Florida Sun Sentinel he'd served as a police chaplain in Indiana and New Jersey before moving to Florida in the early 1990s. A police official praised Goodstein for tackling the hard jobs, like death notification and hostage negotiation.

Goodstein posted $5,700 and was released from the Gwinnett County Jail the day of his arrest.