Law enforcement impersonator arrested in Vista

Posted at 8:51 PM, Jun 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-15 21:31:15-04

VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) -- A Vista man was arrested Thursday, accused of impersonating an undercover sheriff's deputy. 

In an investigation, sheriff's deputies from the Vista Community Policing and Problem Solving (COPPS) identified 24-year-old Vista resident Abraham Joseph Nava as a potential suspect.

They later arrested Nava in the 100 block of Wave Drive in Vista. At the time of his arrest, deputies found fake sheriff's department business cards in his possession, and found several pieces of San Diego County Sheriff's Department uniform items, badges and uniform belt items in the home.

Earlier this week, the sheriff's department was contacted by a concerned citizen after an interaction with Nava, who they say claimed to be an undercover deputy. Sheriff deputies from the COPPS Unit took the case and began an investigation.

During interviews with several employees from businesses in the Main Street area of Vista, investigators learned that Nava had passed out other fake business cards and was interacting with minors in the area.

During one reported incident, deputies learned that two juveniles were detained by the subject and had their skateboards taken.  

Deputies released photos of the business cards and a badge Friday.  On the business card, the word "keeping" is spelled "kepping."  The email domain name is also different than the one on the real business cards.

Nava admitted to investigators that he falsely represented himself as a deputy sheriff on several occasions.

"I believe he was someone who wanted to be in law enforcement ... and he was living out a fantasy role of being a deputy while in our downtown area," said Sgt. Jason Scroggins.

On Thursday he was booked into the Vista Detention Facility for two counts of false imprisonment and two counts of false impersonation of a peace officer. He is in custody on $110,000 bail.

In 2015, Nava - a security guard - was accused of planting a fake bomb at a mall in Carlsbad and making hoax calls at other malls.  He pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors and was sentenced to probation.  10news checked and the security guard he license received before the conviction remains active.  According to the state Bureau of Security and Investigative Services, any conviction should have automatically been sent to their office.  A spokesperson tells 10news they are now looking into whether that took place.

The Sheriff's Dept. investigation is on-going. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff's Department at (760) 940-4551 or call Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.