18-year-old charged for impersonating Ohio senator

An 18-year-old Ohio man was charged with impersonating a peace officer and telecommunications fraud after posing as a state senator and giving a speech to a high school class, authorities said Saturday.

Izaha Akins, of Marion, visited Mohawk High School in December and claimed to be a lawmaker who was going to replace another senator who was planning on resigning due to an illness. Akins told the school he was second in line for the appointment after the first choice declined, according to The Toledo Blade. He also gave a speech to students.

School officials realized they were duped weeks later after Sen. David Burke, of Marysville, showed up to speak weeks later, as scheduled. Burke told the Associated Press in an email Friday that when he learned about the hoax, he and the high school immediately began working with police.

Akins told The Toledo Blade he wanted to make a point about school security in small communities.

"These country schools think it can't happen to them," Akins told The Blade in a brief interview. He said he wanted to "prove a point — that these kinds of things can happen. They could easily have Googled me, and they didn't."

School officials said Burke was scheduled to speak to a class at Jan. 14 when Akins called to tell them he was his replacement. He arranged to visit Dec. 15, provided his real name, presented his driver’s license at the school that afternoon, got a tour of the school from the principal, then gave his presentation and left, Mohawk Schools Superintendent Ken Ratliff said.

"The presentation was about being active in politics, political processes," Ratliff said. "Everyone thought it was legit; bought into it, including the teacher."

Authorities said Reineke Ford provided a car and driver for the day to the supposed legislator. The Blade said Reineke Motors general manager Tony Flood said it's not unusual for the dealership to help the nearby school district.

Wyandot County Sheriff Mike Hetzel said no one at the school was in any danger, and a sheriff's deputy was at the school during the time of the visit.

Ratliff said, though, that the district now takes extra steps to verify visitors' identities.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.