A Carol Stream man who amassed a collection of bulletproof vests and official police badges will serve probation and community service for impersonating a police officer.
Miguel Diaz, 46, pleaded guilty to the felony charge in March. At a brief hearing Thursday, DuPage County Judge George Bakalis sentenced him to two years of probation and 20 days of public service work for the sheriff's department.
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Police searched Diaz's home on the 600 block of Hearth Lane last July after the Department of Homeland Security intercepted an official Chicago police badge as it passed through customs at O'Hare International Airport, authorities said at the time. The search uncovered more than 50 bulletproof vests and badges from various law-enforcement agencies, including the FBI and CIA, as well as an official Chicago police uniform, police said.
Assistant State's Attorney Todd Fanter said Diaz later admitted he collected police paraphernalia and had developed a system to acquire some items through the mail. He said Diaz acknowledged he occasionally displayed the badges in public.
"This wasn't a onetime mistake," Fanter said.
But defense attorney Frank Scarpino contended Diaz was merely a collector with no ill intentions.
"There's absolutely zero evidence he was using these badges for anything nefarious," Scarpino said.
Diaz has worked as a security guard and told investigators he always wanted to become a police officer. Offering an apology in court Thursday, he said he started the collection with his young son and, "unfortunately, I messed up."
"I just wanted something to participate in with my son," he told the judge.