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Man arrested on charges of impersonating federal agent and 'deporting' distant cousin's wife [Updated]

A Southern California man has been arrested on suspicion of posing as a federal marshal to kidnap a distant cousin’s wife and put her on a plane to the Philippines, police said Wednesday.

Witnesses said Gregory Denny, 37, turned up at the Hemet home of Craig Hibbard, a distant cousin, on Jan. 15, wearing a fake badge and a shirt imprinted with “U.S. Federal Agent,” said Lt. Duane Wisehart of the Hemet Police Department.

Displaying what turned out to be a pellet gun, Denny reportedly handcuffed Hibbard’s wife, Cherrie Belle, and told the couple she was being deported, Wisehart said. Denny allegedly drove Belle, 28, to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection station in Murrieta.

When he was told there was no warrant for her in the computer system, he apparently returned to the couple’s house in the 1200 block of Stepstone Court and instructed her husband to purchase a ticket for her online to her home country, Wisehart said.

Police were told Denny drove the woman to the international airport in San Diego, where he flashed his fake badge to get through security. He allegedly escorted her to the departure gate, uncuffed her and watched her board a plane to San Francisco en route to Manila, where she remains.

When Hibbard reported the matter to authorities three days later, police reached Denny by telephone and asked him to come into the station for questioning. Denny arrived wearing the “U.S. Federal Agent” shirt, identified himself to police as a U.S. marshal and verified the family’s general account of what happened, Wisehart said.

“This person is not and never was employed by the U.S. Marshals Service, and as far as we can ascertain, has never been employed by any law enforcement agency in any capacity,” the Hemet Police Department said in a statement.

Police arrested Denny last month on suspicion of kidnapping, false imprisonment, impersonating a peace officer, burglary and false arrest, Wisehart said. He was released the next day on $50,000 bail and is expected in court Feb. 16.

The Riverside County district attorney’s office is considering whether to file charges, said spokesman John Hall. Hemet police also notified the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration.

Denny told the Press-Enterprise the kidnapping claims are false but did not elaborate. The Police Department did not provide a motive. [Updated at 2:48 p.m.: “There is no clear motive except that he felt he was doing a 'favor’ for the family, and that they, the family, wanted her deported,” Wisehart said.]

Hibbard told the Press-Enterprise that his wife is five months’ pregnant and that they have been married for three years. He said she canceled her green card last year in a dispute with him, saying she wanted to go home to the Philippines.

The couple later reconciled and she tried to renew her immigration documents, the paper reported. Hibbard said they were told by immigration officials in San Bernardino that she was allowed to remain in the U.S. while her application was being processed.

[Updated at 12:07 a.m. Feb. 4: An earlier version of this post referred to U.S. Customs and Border Protection as U.S. Border Patrol.]

-- Alexandra Zavis

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Comments () | Archives (31)

The story doesn't make sense. I bet there's more to the story that the husband is not telling officials.

Wonder when they're going to open up an official federal investigation of TSA policies at San Diego International Airport for allowing this joker to get through security by flashing his fake badge????

I heard from friends in the Philippines that the Wife planned all this out, she wanted to leave her husband but couldn't because she lacked the funds to go home. So she somehow found his cousin and she got the cousin, Denny to pretend he's a US Marshall to deport her.

How does the airport security let this guy get back with out verifing his job title? What a joke!

How do you "cancel" a green card?

I don't where to begin, but I'll try...
1.) Why didn't the U.S. Border Patrol stop the man when he attempted to have the handcuffed woman deported?
2.) Why did the woman's husband agree to purchase an airline ticket online? Didn't that raise any red flags?
3.) How did the man get through airport security using a fake badge?
4.) Why did the husband wait three days to report the matter to authorities?
5.)After being charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment, burglarly, impersonating a peace officer and false arrest, how did the man get out on a measly $50,000 bail?

I can picture Dwight from "the office" doing something like this. And BTW great job by the border patrol and TSA in verifying who he is. Walks in and bascially tells you a lie. Good to let the bad guys know we are still as asleep at the wheel as we were on 09/10/2001.

This is pretty scary, considering the man was allowed to walk through an airport with a fake badge. Security system more sketchy then ever...

..where he flashed his fake badge to get through security...
wow we have some winners working for the Federal Government.. no wonder with nasty Nepalitano in command who turned Arizona in to a 3rd world banana republic as governor

exactly, they really need to throw the book at the TSA fools in San Diego. Mind you, next time I'm running late I'll flash a fake badge to dodge the line.

"Wonder when they're going to open up an official federal investigation of TSA policies at San Diego International Airport for allowing this joker to get through security by flashing his fake badge????" Talk about clowns in charge of security. Why bother with complicated schemes when a $5 fake badge from Toys R Us can get you pass security?

Well, sure--it's easy enough to fool TSA with a fake badge. But the important question is unanswered--did he have to take off his shoes?

Can the husband be deported to?

Is this woman alive? has anyone contacted her? and why believe what those 2 are saying? maybe they wanted to get rid of her and the baby (no child support to be paid). They really need to investigate this one.

Why would he want to deport his distant cousin's wife after they had been separated?

Yup and now you know why the US is one big joke. All this so called security, is no more then a crap joke. And this story tells you that!

once again....great security at the airports...Good job security

Spielburg, or Cameron could make a great chic-flick out of this one, dont you agree this the stuff movies are made of!

if she was in the country she should have been deported along with everysingle other person that is in amerika illegally. enforce our laws people.

If the airport security is a joke consider our border patrol along the Mexico border. Anybody can literally walk over not to mention drugs, bombs and terrorists. Bin Ladin could be living in DC then.

Will the husband have to pay the mail order bride fees a second time in order to get her back?

gary great comment. got a laugh out of that. totally a Dwight move! :)

I cringe whenever I read stories like this. My grandfather fought with the Filipinos during world war 2 and was treated with kindness by the natives. His life was saved by a family who hid him in their rice storage, while the Japanese were filtering the barrios with their bayonets.

Decades forward, my autistic son's nurse were a filipina who bent rules to accomodate my son's needs and to this day, I promised myself that I would do everything I could to save at least one of them, which I havent done yet.

I really hope that the woman could forgive the person who did this to her.

when are they going to open an official federal investigation at San Diego International Airport for allowing this joker to get through security by flashing his fake badge????He was released the next day on $50,000 bail there goes another mistake. Why? why didn't the U.S. fedarals stop the man ..Good job security thanks to let the bad guys know we are still asleep at the wheel . He still got away not knowing that he could do it again and again this is a joke right!!!when is this going to stop?...that's the question..is this for real? i'm done or should i say i'm doom..

Our country is doomed.

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