A man was taken into custody after police body cameras recorded him telling officers in Miami Beach that he's a federal agent.
When 40-year-old Nicholas Morena was stopped by officers in Miami Beach, they had questions about his license plate. And then came the following exchange.
"Have you been arrested before," one officer asked in the video.
"No, actually I'm a federal officer," Morena responded.
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The officer later asked Morena if he had identification, which Morena responded he did and asked if the officer would like to see it. Morena told the officer he worked for Homeland Security.
Officers began looking inside Morena's car and found a badge, and determined it wasn't real. They pressed him about his credentials and asked him where he was a federal agent.
"I'm just like...I'm merchant marine," he responded.
"Ok, but why would you tell us you're a federal agent," officers asked.
Morena once again asked if officers if they wanted to see his credentials before his story changed.
"Did I say federal agent?" he asked.
"Yes, you did," officers responded.
"I'm sorry, my apology," Morales said.
Morales was arrested and indicted on a misdemeanor drug charge from a bag of ketamine - a controlled substance -police found on him that night. The indictment also named a felony count against him alleging he pretended to be a federal officer, a claim Morena denied.
Morena later told officers the badge belonged to his friend.
State business records showed Morena was part of a Broward-based marine company that is no longer active. Sources told NBC 6 they know of a previous time Morena posed as a federal agent to local law enforcement officers.
Morena's attorney told NBC 6 his client has “never impersonated a federal officer," adding “he immediately produced upon request his valid Merchant Mariner credential that was issued by the United States Coast Guard.”
Morena eventually reached a deal with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to the misdemeanor drug charge and they dropped the charge of posing as a federal agent. He's expected to be sentenced in mid-December.
The U.S. Coast Guard is going to civil court in an effort to take away Morena's merchant mariner credential that allows him to work in the maritime industry, making the same claim that he was acting as a federal agent with no authority to do so.