HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – Henry Terry had all the right accessories to impersonate a police officer, prosecutors say: authentic-looking uniforms, a car with lights and sirens, a pair of handcuffs. But Terry took it a step further, setting up a personal police station where he kept records of possible crimes and sometimes interrogated "suspects" who were handcuffed to a chair, said Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.
Following the 24-year-old's arraignment earlier this week on charges of grand larceny and impersonating a police officer, the dingy fourth-floor office where he ran his operation was empty Friday except for some computer discs, a few papers on the floor, a pair of black dress shoes and a nameplate on a shelf: "Cpl. H. Terry, Unit Supervisor."
On the building directory downstairs, the space is listed as the "New York Enforcement Asset Recovery Bureau's District 2 Operations."
The office, now frigid because of broken windows, was also used for a time for the Holbrook resident's security company, and investigators were unsure when Terry started his alleged police impersonation.
"We have reason to believe the defendant has been posing as a police officer for some time," Spota said in a statement.
To convince civilians he was a police officer, Terry bought badges, uniforms, handcuffs and other law enforcement paraphernalia from catalogs and the Internet, Spota said. He would stop motorists, ostensibly for traffic violations, and before his interrogations he would photocopy each "suspect's" ID, just as real police do.
Terry pleaded not guilty and his attorney, George Dazzo, said Terry didn't attempt to "harm or threaten" anyone. But prosecutors said he asked some victims for cash in exchange for their release. They were never taken to a real police station.
The grand larceny charge stems from an incident in which Terry is accused of convincing the owner of a sport utility vehicle to give him the SUV to use in a supposed undercover investigation. Terry is accused of swapping the driver's vehicle for another one and $600 cash, the district attorney said.
In 2002 Terry was arrested for reckless endangerment and sentenced to five years of probation. He violated those terms in May 2004 when he was arrested on a charge of criminal impersonation in Nassau County. He was sent to prison, but was freed on parole again in December 2004.
Terry's next court date is March 12.