Thursday, March 01, 2001

Cop phony, but judge was real

Police: Firefighter had misfortune of stopping wrong guy

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LIBERTY TWP. — A volunteer firefighter made a mistake playing traffic cop and using his vehicle's flashing red lights, police say.

        They say he made a bigger mistake when he pulled over a judge.

        Anthony A. Barone of Liberty Township has been charged with impersonating a peace officer and unlawful restraint, both misdemeanors, after an incident involving Judge Rob Lyons of Butler County Area I Court.

        Mr. Barone was released Tuesday after posting $1,600 bond.

        Pending the case's outcome, Mr. Barone was placed on administrative leave from the Liberty Township Fire Department, where he has served since June, Fire Chief Paul Stumpf said Wednesday.

        Such instances make the public wary of legitimate police actions, said Col. Richard K. Jones, the Butler County sheriff's chief deputy. But he also said Mr. Barone didn't seem to act with criminal intent.

        “He used stupid judgment — and he had the bad luck of stopping a judge, then not letting him leave,” Col. Jones said.

        Neither Mr. Barone nor his attorney, Daniel A. Nastoff, returned telephone calls Wednesday.

        Judge Lyons said only that the incident happened while he and his 11-year-old daughter were in his Honda Accord, headed toward their West Chester Township home.

        At 8:24 p.m. Monday, Mr. Barone used a cell phone to call sheriff's deputies and report a possible traffic violator, sheriff's Maj. Anthony Dwyer said. But when deputies arrived at Cherokee Elementary School on Kyles Station Road, they learned Mr. Barone had used his emergency lights and siren to pull over Judge Lyons' vehicle — then blocked Judge Lyons from leaving the parking lot.

        Judge Lyons told deputies he had begun to proceed through the intersection of Kyles Station and Ohio 747. But he stopped, backed up and waited for Mr. Barone to pass on 747.

        Mr. Barone turned around his vehicle, followed Judge Lyons for a short time on Kyles Station, “then activated a red oscillating light which made the victim believe the suspect was a police officer,” an incident report says.

        Col. Jones said he has compassion for Mr. Barone even though his actions make police officers' jobs harder.

        “I hope the court system isn't too severe on him,” Col. Jones said. “The embarrassment and the public humiliation are probably enough.”


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