[PHOTO CREDIT: iStock / tihomir_todorov]
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EUSTIS, Florida – A local private investigator is facing a felony charge of impersonating a law enforcement officer after an incident at a gas station Aug. 30. Patricia Michelle Wolfman, 47, was picked up on a warrant and booked into the Lake County Jail Monday, where she bonded out the same day.
According to the probable cause affidavit, a woman named Casey Denig encountered Wolfman at the BP gas station at SR 44 and East Orange Avenue in Eustis, at which time Denig “became involved in an argument” with Wolfman. The affidavit further states, “the suspect was continually yelling profanities and flipping Denig off while she refueled her vehicle.” Denig started to leave and Wolfman allegedly flashed a silver badge and stated she was a cop. Denig told police she asked to see the badge again but the suspect refused. At this time the Denig began to video. The suspect told Denig she’d have her arrested for “obstructing a fuel pump during a crisis situation” — which presumably was a reference to Florida’s Hurricane Dorian.
Denig, who alleges she was called “white trash” during the encounter, told police that “she remembers her body was shaking because she thought she was going to jail for getting gas. She firmly believed she was going to be arrested by Wolfman for obstructing a gas pump in a crisis situation.” In the audio portion of Denig’s video, which Lake Legal News has reviewed, Wolfman is heard barking orders at the victim, saying, “get in you car and leave, or you will go to jail today.”
In 2009 Wolfman was charged with a nearly identical offense called “falsely personating an officer” and was sentenced to one year probation on a reduced misdemeanor conviction for “unlawful use of indicia of authority.” Courthouse records show Wolfman was convicted in 2010 for battery, and is currently facing active felony prosecution in Lake County stemming from a March 2018 arrest for grand theft and scheme to defraud.
[PHOTO SOURCE: Facebook]
On social media, the alleged victim apparently posted the following description of the event: “So I came into contact with this lady yesterday at the gas station. Completely rude, flashing her badge which I think was fake because I’ve never met anyone in law enforcement act the way this lady did. She says I cut her in line but she was not there when I pulled in, she was very verbal about [calling] me names from d[***] b[****] to white trash and more. I had to go in and pay and she said I was [obstructing] the gas line in a crisis. She took a picture of my jeep, just watch out [for] this crazy lady, I should have let her call the cops. Sorry for the bad language on her end in this video.”
The probable cause affidavit for Wolfman’s 2008 “falsely personating officer” arrest alleged that while searching for a woman who owed money, Wolfman presented herself as a “detective” to a property manager and showed the property manager “a badge similar to those issued to police officers and a handgun as further evidence or indicia of authority.” The badge bore the inscription, “Detective of Lake County, Florida.”
James Hope is a Florida Bar Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer who has been practicing criminal law in Tavares, Florida, since 1987. He has also been the Publisher and Executive Editor of Lake Legal News since 2009. He may be contacted at LakeLegalNews@gmail.com, or through his website at www.AttorneyJamesHope.com. [PHOTO CREDIT: Bonnie Whicher]