Deputies say man impersonating a cop tried to arrest driver
Robert Eckhart Staff Writer
(PORT CHARLOTTE) -- An auto shop owner Dennis Clune -- who had painted a gold star and "Sheriff's patrol" on his Dodge truck -- threatened to arrest a motorist on U.S. 41 Friday morning, sheriff's deputies say.
According to a Charlotte County sheriff's report, Clune pulled over a gold Lexus at the intersection of U.S. 41 and Harbor Boulevard in Port Charlotte at about 10:30 a.m.
Clune, 60, was standing next to the Lexus, yelling at the driver, when the real deputies arrived.
Clune was arrested on charges of impersonating a law enforcement officer, putting an unlawful insignia on his vehicle and illegal use of lights.
Punta Gorda resident Mark Bourquin, the driver of the Lexus, said he wasn't quite sure what was happening when Clune pulled up alongside his car.
"The guy had a blue light on his dashboard and he was pointing at me to pull over for some reason," said Bourquin, 79. "I honked at him. I guess I made him mad."
The black truck didn't look like any cop car he'd ever seen. Bourquin was even more confused when Clune got out of the truck wearing a T-shirt instead of an officer's uniform.
Bourquin said Clune screamed at him and told him he was going to jail.
"He said, 'Give me your license,'" Bourquin said. "I said, 'Give me your badge.'"
Clune turned around and pointed at the star painted on his truck, the sheriff's report says.
"There's my badge," Clune responded, according to the report.
A deputy who was passing by spotted Clune's truck and the sheriff's logo. Clune was arrested and Bourquin was allowed to leave.
Family members at Clune's Auto Body declined to comment on the arrest. Clune, 4200 block Munson St., was in jail Friday afternoon on $ 2,575 bail.
Sheriff's Lt. Pete Sbarbori said deputies had been on the lookout for the truck with "Sheriff's patrol" on the side since Wednesday but hadn't been able to find it.
Sbarbori said the Sheriff's Office doesn't know whether Clune pulled over anyone else. Anyone with information about other illegal traffic stops is encouraged to call the Sheriff's Office at 627-5977.
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