by WorldTribune Staff, August 9, 2022
Sterling Devion Carter, a 24-year-old staffer for Illinois Democrat Rep. Brad Schneider, impersonated an FBI agent during a rally held by President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 14, 2020.
He successfully passed himself off as an agent for some time before Secret Service confronted him and he fled the scene. He was later tracked down and charged with impersonating a law enforcement officer, court documents show.
But the Democrat staffer never served a day in jail for that offense. In fact, federal prosecutors dropped the impersonation charge.
What eventually landed Carter in prison was that, investigators discovered, for over a year Carter — who served as Schneider’s operations director and was responsible for payroll and bonus payments — gave himself an $80,000 raise, boosting his congressional staffer salary from $54,000 to $138,000.
Carter pleaded guilty to “theft of public funds in connection with his scheme to fraudulently inflate his salary and bonus payments, thereby paying himself more than he was legitimately owed,” according to a Department of Justice press release.
Last week, Carter was sentenced to nine months in federal prison over the theft of public funds. His lawyer said that Carter would be turning himself in soon to begin the sentence.
Carter, wearing a black T-shirt that read “federal agent,” a police duty belt, a Glock pistol, extra ammunition, handcuffs, a radio, and an earpiece, was so successful in his efforts to pose as an FBI agent that, according to reports, people in the Trump crowd were thanking him for his service.
He was driving a blue Ford Taurus, which resembled an unmarked police vehicle. The car even had blue emergency lights, a driver’s door spotlight, a laptop mount on the dash, and its back seats that were partitioned off from the front.
When Carter turned on the flashing lights on his car during the rally, it caught the attention of a pair of plainclothes Secret Service officers.
Court documents said that the officers noted that the vehicle’s license plate was much bolder and longer than normal tags from Washington, D.C., leading them to become suspicious so they ran the plates, which did not turn up any results.
Not long after five bicycle officers with the Secret Service managed to catch up with Carter and as they approached him, the Democrat staffer told the officers he was “FBI.” When the officers asked Carter to produce some valid credentials, he flipped on his emergency lights and sped away from the scene.
One agent took off after Carter on an electric bike, at times reaching speeds of 35 miles per hour during his pursuit through the D.C. streets. But eventually, the Secret Service agent broke off the chase for “officer safety reasons” and Carter sped off.
Law enforcement did not discover that Carter was a Democrat congressional staffer until three weeks after the Nov. 14, 2020 Secret Service chase. During that time, Carter was a credentialed staffer who had access to the U.S. Capitol building.
After Schneider’s office was told about Carter posing as an FBI agent, the staffer was given the option to resign or be fired, according to court papers. Carter reportedly said he would resign, but he kept his government-issued cellphone.
After a manhunt, Carter was arrested in Georgia, his parents’ home state. In court, Carter admitted that he illegally openly carried a handgun in D.C.
Federal agents were able to track down Carter because of the “federal agent” t-shirt he wore at the rally, which they discovered was purchased at the apparel store 13 Fifty Apparel, which ultimately led to Carter’s discovery. A real federal agent identified his clothing and worked with the owner of the store to sift through customer records.
However, federal prosecutors dropped the law enforcement impersonation charge. Prior to his sentencing on the theft of public funds, Carter narrowly avoided prison time on other charges, his lawyer said, because he pleaded guilty at age 24, the age cutoff to take part in a local District of Columbia prison diversion program for young first-time offenders.
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