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UPDATE: Man who posed as federal agent gets 5 years

Friday, December 19, 2008 | 3:03 p.m. CST

ST. LOUIS — A man who posed as a federal agent for two months in the eastern Missouri town of Gerald was sentenced Friday to 5 years in prison.

Bill Jakob did not speak during the hearing in U.S. District Court and declined an interview request afterward. Asked by a reporter if he had remorse, Jakob began to speak before his attorney told him to stop.

Jakob, 36, of Washington, Mo., pleaded guilty in September to a long list of federal charges, including 13 counts of impersonating federal officers.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith said after the hearing on Friday that Jakob had dangerous authority in Gerald — he was armed with guns, threw people to the ground and handcuffed them, and conducted warrantless searches.

"We're all fortunate that these individuals who were victimized by this man were not injured," he said.

Jakob's attorney, Joel Schwartz, said Jakob perpetrated the elaborate scheme because he wanted deep down to be a police officer.

He said the ruse began innocently, saying Jakob legitimately had a badge to serve as a Federal Reserve Bank law officer. He approached the Gerald police chief with that badge. Schwartz said the chief misunderstood how much authority Jakob had.

"Bill took advantage of the misinterpretation," Schwartz said.

But authorities have said Jakob, upon his arrival in Gerald in April, told local police he was part of a multi-jurisdictional drug task force working in the area. He had printed business cards that said as much. He also, on separate occasions, represented himself as someone from the Drug Enforcement Administration and a U.S. marshal.

He preferred to use a shotgun with a pistol grip on raids and told fellow officers they didn't need warrants to search homes, authorities said after his arrest.

FBI special agent John Gillies has criticized Gerald police for allowing Jakob to raid houses without a warrant, and the ruse led to the firing of the town's police chief.

Jakob also pleaded guilty to four counts of posing as a contracting officer for the Army Corps of Engineers in late 2007 through January. At the time, Jakob was a salesman for Total Lock & Security Co. of suburban St. Louis, which sells doors and lock sets to commercial customers and government agencies.

Authorities said Jakob lied to the company by saying he had negotiated three contracts with the corps. He made up two names of purported corps contracting officers, who were actually him.

Total Lock spent thousands of dollars to fill the order, and shipped the locks to Tennessee at Jakob's request, U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway has said. The purpose of the scheme appeared to be getting a promotion at the company.

At the sentencing hearing, Jakob was ordered to repay Total Lock & Security $30,000. He'll also be under the court's supervision for three years after his release.

Schwartz said Jakob is out on bond and is expected to go to prison in about a month. He has asked to go to a federal prison in Texarkana, Texas, which is near relatives and offers unspecified educational and vocational opportunities. U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel said he would make that recommendation, but that the Bureau of Prisons has the final say.

Goldsmith, discussing speculation that a movie could be made about the case, said if Jakob were to profit from such an enterprise, the government would seek to tap those funds to make restitution to victims of his crimes.

A sentencing report prepared for Sippel had recommended Jakob serve from four to just under five years. But Goldsmith urged the judge to abide by a five-year sentence negotiated in a plea agreement, noting the "government felt very strongly that this deserved a punishment."

Sippel, quoting a statement by George Washington about the administration of justice being a pillar in a democracy, told Jakob that five years is appropriate.

"I believe you appreciate the wrongfulness of your conduct," the judge said.

Jakob's case got national attention earlier this year when he said in a "60 Minutes" interview that his drug busts gave him an adrenalin rush and sense of purpose.

The drug busts also prompted lawsuits against the town and led to the firing of Gerald's police chief.

The story began to unravel after reporter Linda Trest, who was working for the Gasconade County Republican, learned of complaints about Jakob's rough treatment of suspects and asked the sheriff about the new officer.

The Hollywood Reporter said last month that Paramount is planning a film inspired by the story.


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