HEMET, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California man posed as a U.S. marshal to kidnap a distant cousin's wife and falsely deport her to the Philippines, police said Tuesday.
Police arrested Greg Raymond Denny Jr. of Riverside County last month on suspicion of impersonating an officer and kidnapping Cherriebelle Hibbard.
Police said Denny, 37, barged into Hibbard's Hemet home on Jan. 15 wearing a fake badge and a shirt that said "U.S. Marshal." Denny handcuffed the woman at gunpoint and forced her husband to buy her a plane ticket. He then used a fake badge to get through San Diego airport security and put her on a plane to her home country, according to a police report.
Craig Hibbard said he called the U.S. Marshals Service three days later and officials there told him Denny wasn't an agent.
Police said they arrested Denny after he came to the station for questioning wearing a fake badge and a replica pistol. Denny claimed he was a federal marshal but later admitted he impersonated a marshal and confirmed the family's account, Lt. Mark Richards said. No motive was released.
Denny told The Press-Enterprise newspaper Monday that the kidnapping claims were false, but he provided no further details.
Cherriebelle, who is five months pregnant, wed Craig Hibbard three years ago. She canceled her immigration documents and said she wanted to go home after the two fought last year, Craig Hibbard said.
She later renewed her green card and was waiting for it to be processed when Denny abducted her, Craig Hibbard said. Immigration officials in San Bernardino told her she was allowed to stay in the United States in the meantime, he said.
Denny said Craig Hibbard's father told him Cherriebelle was in the country illegally and the couple was having problems at home, The Press-Enterprise reported. Denny and Craig Hibbard are distant cousins, but Hibbard said they met only twice before.
Hemet police said they forwarded the case to the San Diego FBI.
The Riverside County district attorney's office could file charges or refer the case to the U.S. attorney's office. The U.S. Marshal's Service is investigating and the Transportation Security Administration is reviewing the incident, officials said.
In a phone interview from Manila, Cherriebelle Hibbard told the newspaper she had never met Denny and didn't realize he was related to her husband. She said she was afraid of going to jail when he pounded on the door.
"I'm pregnant and don't want to take the kids away from my husband," she said.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Lori Haley said federal marshals do not carry out deportation orders. Only ICE or FBI agents can make arrests for immigration violations. The defendant then gets a hearing before a deportation order is issued.
Denny is free on $50,000 bond.
Information from: The Press-Enterprise, http://www.pe.com
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.