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updated: 7/25/2013 4:09 PM

Impersonation suspect released on I-bond

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  • Vincent Richardson

    Vincent Richardson

Associated Press

A 19-year-old Chicago man is accused of impersonating a police officer -- more than four years after he passed himself off as one and even rode around on patrol for five hours.

Cook Count Bond Court Judge Laura Sullivan ordered Thursday that Vincent Richardson be released on a promise to appear in court on Aug. 15. He didn't enter a plea; a $25,000 I-bond was issued, which he will owe if he doesn't show up in court.

Richardson was arrested Tuesday after he went into a Chicago police uniform store -- dressed in police cargo pants and a white shirt -- and tried to purchase other uniform items, Assistant State's Attorney Erin Antonietti said Thursday. He told the store clerk that he was an officer in Englewood, on the city's South Side, Antonietti said.

Richardson exited the store briefly but left his ID behind. The clerk then researched Richardson's name, found stories about Richardson's previous impersonation attempt online and called police, prosecutors said.

In 2009, a 14-year-old Richardson walked into a police station on the city's South Side dressed in a regulation uniform. He was convincing enough that police issued him a radio and assigned him to a squad car.

Richardson spent about five hours on patrol -- two behind the wheel -- and even helped arrest a suspect who allegedly violated a protection order.

"He brought the arm into the middle of his back so handcuffs could be placed on him," former Chicago police superintendent Jody Weis said at the time.

It wasn't until Richardson returned to the station that his ruse was discovered by a supervisor who noticed that not only was he not wearing a complete uniform, but also wasn't carrying a gun.

Antonietti said that when Richardson returned to the store Tuesday, police arrested him and found a receipt for a Chicago Police Department badge that he purchased online.

Richardson's public defender said the 19-year-old had been working as a security officer.

In 2009, the police department -- not Richardson -- received the most attention, as an angry Mayor Richard Daley and Weis both wondered how a boy not yet in high school could fool so many officers into thinking he was one of them. Several officers were disciplined, and officers were also given a refresher course in recognizing police impersonators.

Richardson was placed on juvenile probation.

Since then, he's been in trouble as a juvenile and an adult.

Richardson passed himself off as an adult at a car dealership and was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle after he was allowed to take a car for a test drive. The Cook County state's attorney's office said he also received juvenile probation for that.

The office also said Richardson also was sentenced in 2010 to juvenile detention after he stole his uncle's car.

In 2011, he was convicted as an adult of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. According to the state's Department of Corrections, he was sentenced to one year in state prison.

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