A burglary victim impersonated Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren in an attempt to get the person accused of stealing from his 11th Avenue home behind bars, according to testimony today in Columbus Recorder's Court.
Brian Deon Reed, who police say admitted to the crime, pleaded not guilty to one count each of identify fraud and impersonating a police officer. He ordered to return to Muscogee County Jail under bonds totaling $30,000.
Columbus Police Sgt. Jason Brown there were complaints made as early as Dec. 9 from fellow officers stating that they had received a Facebook friend request from a user claiming to be Boren.
"What was immediately found to be usual was that even though the page claimed to be Chief Boren, the profile picture was in fact the Columbus Police Department's major of patrol services, J.D. Hawk," Brown testified. "After consulting both Chief Boren and Maj. Hawk on this incident, both of them denied authorizing or creating this fraudulent Facebook page."
Police then obtained a search warrant allowing them full access to the Facebook account.
"Several unique IP address were found along with conversation and private messages that all seemingly revolved around a burglary committed by Tyler Britton as well as contact with Tyler Britton's family and friends," Brown said.
After reviewing the messages, police determined that "any reasonable person" would believe the user was either Boren or Hawk.
Britton, 17, was arrested Dec. 17 on outstanding warrants stemming from the burglary, police confirmed.
Brown said two key pieces of evidence indicated that 23-year-old Reed, the burglary victim, was the user posing as the police chief to get information about the incident.
"First was that one of the IP addresses belonged to a Charter Communications Internet account in the name of (a woman) who was one of his friends and neighbors," Brown told the judge. "Second, one of the IP addresses belonged to a cellphone number that he gave authorities as his contact number for a burglary that was committed at his residence in the month prior."
Reed voluntarily went to the Columbus Public Safety Center on Feb. 4 to speak with authorities, officials said. During the police interview, he admitted to creating the fraudulent account in an attempt to retrieve the property stolen in the burglary and assist in Britton's capture, Brown testified.
Five days later around 9 a.m., Reed was apprehended inside of his 11th Avenue and transported to the Muscogee County Jail.
The defendant didn't testify in court. The case was bound over to Superior Court.
— Sarah is a crime & safety reporter at The Ledger-Enquirer. You can contact her on Twitter at @SarahR_92.