- A man with a cache of badges, uniforms, denies wrongdoing, police chief says
- The man told investigators he "lives in a fantasy world," the chief says
- Chief James Steffens says he's not ready to accept the fantasy claim
A man arrested with a stash of fake military, law enforcement and medical paraphernalia -- including badges and uniforms -- has told investigators he "lives in a fantasy world," a police official said Tuesday.
But authorities still aren't convinced the man, Roy Antigua, 52, is telling the truth. They intend to dig deeper to make sure nothing more sinister was at hand, New Port Richey Police Chief James Steffens said.
"Best case scenario: fantasy gone wild. Worst case scenario, you can draw your own conclusion," Steffens said.
"I'd be very surprised and relieved if I was proven wrong, but there's just too much here," he said.
Police arrested Antigua in the coastal Florida city of New Port Richey August 1 for a traffic offense and parole violation. An officer noticed that the identification card Antigua provided seemed strange and had plastic where it shouldn't have been. This launched the investigation that led to the stash, Steffens said.
The materials found in Antigua's two homes and Cadillac Escalade included diplomatic license plates and dozens of fake identification cards from the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Defense, CIA and NASA.
The suspect also had access badges to hospitals around Florida, doctor and nurse scrubs, a respiratory technician badge, police blue lights and access stickers to Coast Guard bases around Florida, Steffens said.
It was unclear if the badges and access stickers would have allowed Antigua entry into any restricted areas.
During questioning, Antigua admitted that he had fabricated most of the credentials and items that police seized, Steffens said.
The only legitimate identification was a badge identifying Antigua as a member of the Coast Guard auxiliary, a volunteer group.
Antigua has denied any criminal wrongdoing, Steffens said.
"His explanation is that he was remorseful and this is his personal collection that he lives in a fantasy world and he wishes that he were these people," Steffens said.
"I'm not accepting that it's a fantasy at this point," Steffens said. "I think there's something here. We just have to figure out what it was and deal with it."
Since a news conference Monday about Antigua's arrest, authorities have received more than 100 tips, Steffens said. Many came them from residents who said they had encounters with Antigua passing himself off as a law enforcement officer or member of the military.
Steffens said he does not yet know if the tips are legitimate, but he said he had one such encounter himself.
Steffens said he met Antigua during a memorial service in May. The man was wearing the blue uniform of a lieutenant commander of the U.S. Coast Guard, Steffens said.
"I never even raised an eyebrow," Steffens said of the encounter.
Authorities have confirmed Antigua is not in the Coast Guard. He last worked for a health care company, Steffens said.
While Steffens said investigators from his department plan to pursue the case further, one law enforcement agency has bowed out.
The U.S. Secret Service said it is not concerned about one of the man's patches, which contains references to the agency and Air Force One.
The patch isn't a real Secret Service item, and Antigua doesn't appear to be a threat to President Barack Obama, said John Joyce, special agent in charge of the Secret Service field office in Tampa.
"Nothing that we saw by either interviewing him or by what he had in his possession, we felt had anything to do with our protective mission," Joyce said.