By MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Two men face federal charges after allegedly posing as U.S. marshals at a Florida resort and threatening hotel staff with arrest if they made them wear masks, a criminal complaint claims.
Walter Wayne Brown Jr., 53, and Gary Brummett, 81, were arrested Feb. 11 on charges of impersonating a federal officer.
Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the Wyndham Deerfield Beach Resort in Deerfield Beach earlier that day after hotel staff reported they were suspicious of two men who identified themselves as U.S. marshals.
Brown and Brummett allegedly claimed they were medically exempt from a hotel policy requiring that they wear masks — and flashed laminated cards indicating their exemption, according to a criminal complaint.
When a manager asked Brummett on Feb. 11 to wear a mask to comply with the public health guidelines, Brummett allegedly pointed to his belt badge and said, “Do you know what this means? I’m a ‘U.S. Marshal’ and can have you arrested if you force me to wear a mask,” according to the complaint.
Over the previous two days, Brown allegedly told hotel staff enforcing the policy on two separate occasions that he was a federal agent and “did not have to wear a mask,” according to the complaint. He also allegedly told the manager he was exempt due to a medical condition and could have him arrested if forced to wear a mask.
Hotel employees, including a front desk agent whose cousin is a U.S. marshal, found it strange that federal agents would take issue with wearing a mask, and the manager contacted authorities to corroborate the claims, according to the complaint.
Responding deputies found Brown and Brummett dining together “wearing authentic appearing circular badges on their belts with a seven-point star that read ‘Cherokee Nation Marshal’ along the circle and ‘Aniyvwiya Criminal Justice Deputy’ within the star,” the criminal complaint alleges.
They also allegedly wore laminated cards with the title “FACEMASK EXEMPT NOTICE/CARD” that stated, “l am exempt from any ordinance requiring face mask usage in public. … Wearing a face mask poses a mental and/or physical risk to me. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), I am not required to disclose my condition to you.”
Brown and Brummett have never been employees of the U.S. Marshals Service, nor the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service, according to the complaint.
The pair are on a marshal’s hold at the Joseph V. Conte Facility in Pompano Beach. They have a detention hearing scheduled for Friday and will be arraigned on Feb. 26, court records show.
ABC News has reached out to their attorneys for comment.
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