A San Jose man has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of pretending to be a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent. Jonathan Hoang, 47, was indicted in San Jose on Wednesday on one count of impersonating a federal agent and two counts of using and possessing counterfeit DEA seals. The counterfeit seals were allegedly used on phony DEA credentials and documents that purportedly authenticated his employment.
The indictment alleges that Hoang used the counterfeit documents when he rented a house in December and told the landlord that he could not run a credit check on Hoang because he was a DEA agent. As a result, the landlord did not run a credit check, the indictment said. Hoang was evicted from the house on July 18 for failing to pay rent. The alleged scheme was discovered when Hoang, who was apparently trying to retrieve his possessions, was detained on suspicion of burglarizing the house early the morning of July 20.
San Jose police contacted the DEA after finding a phony badge, fake DEA business cards, a gun, a police scanner, emergency lights and a siren in Hoang’s pickup truck, according to court documents. DEA Special Agent Brian Neil said in an affidavit filed on July 20 that Hoang had previously owned a Ford Crown Victoria with similar lights and sirens and had used it to slow down several motorists he believed were speeding on Interstate Highway 680 in Fremont and San Jose. Neil said Hoang told him he had applied to be a DEA agent in 1986 but was never hired.
Neil wrote that Hoang told him he acquired the DEA paraphernalia because he plays an agent in his teenage son’s movies. Hoang is in custody and is due to have a bail hearing before a federal magistrate in San Jose on Friday. If Hoang is convicted, the impersonation charge carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and the counterfeit seals charges each have a maximum possible penalty of five years in prison.
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