Carnegie security guard faces trial for fast-food fake-out
By Margaret Harding
Published: Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, 5:32 p.m.
A Carnegie security guard flashed a badge for free fast food, police say.
Scott police charged Charles Jones, 55, with impersonating a police officer because employees at a McDonald's there said he tried to score free meals at least three times by claiming to be an Allegheny County police detective. A district judge on Thursday ordered him to stand trial.
Tina Cissell, a manager at the McDonald's on Washington Pike, said she initially gave Jones a free meal based on his super-sized claims, even though he wasn't in uniform. She couldn't remember what he ordered.
It's common practice at the store to give free meals to uniformed officers, she said. But when he regularly returned in street clothes, she became suspicious.
“I said, ‘I keep telling you it's only for uniformed officers,'” Cissell said during a preliminary hearing before District Judge Gary Zyra. “He said, ‘I'm better than them.'”
During one such visit, Jones quickly showed a badge, Cissell said. She asked him for business cards, but he said he gave them all away to judges, she said. At that point, she followed him to his car to get his license plate and report him to police.
“We just don't give free food out to everybody,” Cissell said.
Police charged Jones in August. Scott police Sgt. Jeff Skees said Jones identified himself as “Officer Jones” when he came to the station.
“It's giving people a false impression,” Skees said. “There is a level of trust toward police officers.”
Jones referred comment to his attorneys, Phillip DiLucente and James Ecker. DiLucente said Jones never identified himself as a county police officer and questioned Cissell's credibility because she couldn't say when Jones came in or what he ate.
“I find it interesting the store manager is able to say what he said, but couldn't remember what he ordered,” DiLucente said. “For it to be said to get a burger or ice cream he did this ... he never, ever, ever claimed he had a badge or was in uniform.”
Jones worked security at the Group of 20 economic summit in 2009 and other events, DiLucente said. An employee at Carnegie-based Victory Security said Jones last worked there in July.
Skees said Scott officers didn't know McDonald's would feed them for free.
“We didn't know who gets free food — they must not be working when we're working,” Skees said. “Nobody that I talked to knew about it.”
Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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