A former Algonquin police sergeant who lost his job after he was found guilty of hitting his wife during an alcohol-fueled fight, landed in legal trouble again Friday when he was charged with impersonating a police officer.
Crystal Lake police say an officer stopped Wade Merritt, a Crystal Lake resident, around 8:15 a.m. on New Year's Day for driving 51 mph in a 35 mph zone near Route 14 and Federal Drive.
During the traffic stop, police say, Merritt flashed his no-longer-valid Algonquin police badge. Afterward, the officer who stopped Merritt learned the 22-year veteran had resigned from the force in June after he was convicted of striking his wife during a dispute at his Crystal Lake home in March.
Authorities charged Merritt with false impersonation of a peace officer, a felony that usually nets one to three years in prison, after confirming with the Algonquin Police Department that Merritt was no longer an officer there.
"Many of us already knew that because of his previous legal problems he was no longer a peace officer," Crystal Lake Deputy Chief Dennis Harris said Friday. "But we went through all the check boxes."
Through his attorney, William Hellyer, Merritt denied the charges.
"I don't know that there's any merit to it," Hellyer said. "Based on what he's told me, it's a stretch."
Crystal Lake police have contacted Merritt and expect him to turn himself in after he gathers the $1,000 he would need to be released.
Merritt must pay $75 or surrender his driver's license for the speeding violation, Harris said.
Merritt was sentenced to probation for his domestic battery conviction. He could not be reached immediately for comment.