Attorney of man charged with impersonating cop: He was just trying to get woman to slow down
An Aurora man was just trying to get another driver to slow down when he drove alongside her, pointed repeatedly toward the side of the road and showed a badge, his attorney told a DuPage County judge Thursday.
In his opening statement at Jeffrey M. Spiewak's trial on charges of impersonating a peace officer and disorderly conduct, attorney John Houlihan said Spiewak was pointing to a speed limit sign, not gesturing for the woman to pull off on the shoulder of Butterfield Road in Warrenville in April 2018.
"He was trying to get her to slow down … I don't think he was trying to trick anyone," he said.
But Judge Jeffrey McKay disagreed and found Spiewak guilty on both counts. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 13.
McKay said he reached his decision based largely on the fact Spiewak displayed what appeared to be a badge.
"The one thing police officers always have on them (whether in uniform, undercover, retired or off duty), that thing is a badge. A badge conveys that this person has the power of the state or municipality" and has power over people, McKay said.
The woman was driving east on Butterfield and "sensed" a car pulling alongside her, she testified. She found it unusual a car would drive exactly even with her, so she sped up to see what it would do. The driver of the bright-yellow Chevrolet Camaro sped up to match her, she said, and rolled down his passenger window.
The woman rolled down her window, saying she thought the driver might be trying to alert her to a problem with her car. Instead, he pointed toward the side of the road; when she shook her head "no," he showed her a gold-colored badge in a black wallet.
Fearing it was a ruse, she called police.
"It made me nervous," she said. "This is what you hear about on TV," she said, referencing news stories about women being attacked by police impersonators. She had her 10-year-old daughter with her at the time.
The Camaro turned north on Winfield Road.
Michael Pasciak, a Warrenville detective at the time, testified that a bulletin was put out to police agencies in the area with a description of the man and the car.
A Wayne police officer recalled seeing a car matching that description in the parking lot of an American Legion post in Carol Stream. Several days later, a police officer saw such a vehicle pull into a business parking lot near Butterfield Road and Route 59. The detective said Spiewak told him it was his car and that he belonged to the American Legion post. He opened his wallet to get out his membership card and the detective saw a gold badge.
Spiewak let him examine it; it was a novelty "Concealed Weapon Permit" badge, inscribed with Spiewak's Illinois concealed-carry license number, Pasciak testified.
The detective testified Spiewak told him he was trying to get the woman to slow down, and that several weeks earlier he had done the same thing to a male driver on that stretch of road. Pasciak said the other driver turned out to be a police officer.