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.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.