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ATLANTA - Daniel M. Harbison has been arraigned on federal charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm while impersonating a DEA agent after he allegedly performed a traffic stop of an off-duty Doraville police officer.
“Posing as a federal agent creates a genuine safety risk for everyone involved, as well as bystanders, especially when a firearm is present,” said Acting U.S. Attorney John A. Horn. “The event is deeply unsettling to the victim and threatens to undermine legitimate police encounters that take place every day.”
Daniel R. Salter, the Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Atlanta Field Division said of the case, “When Mr. Harbison pretended to be a DEA agent, he undermined the hard work and dedication of all DEA agents and the other dedicated law enforcement officers who legitimately earned their badges. His actions were exposed because of the hard work conducted by the Doraville Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Atlanta office and DEA. This defendant will now have to pay the price for the crimes he committed.”
“Doraville Police's ability to rapidly react to the DEA impersonator landed him where he needs to be, behind bars. Had he not stopped our officer, who knows what damage he could have done to citizens? We are thankful for both the local and Federal cooperation that will insure Harbison's activity will be fully prosecuted. It is still unknown how many victims remain, but we can say there won't be more,” said John King, Chief of Police, Doraville Police Department.
According to Acting U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court: In the spring of 2015, Harbison began impersonating a Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) officer. Specifically, on April 3, 2015, in Doraville, Georgia, Harbison conducted a traffic stop of a Chevrolet Suburban by activating light-emitting diode (“LED”) lights on his vehicle similar to those of a law-enforcement vehicle, except the lights were green and possibly white instead of blue and white. Unbeknownst to Harbison, the Chevrolet Suburban was being driven by an off-duty Corporal with the Doraville Police Department. During the unauthorized traffic stop, Harbison wore a T-shirt printed with the letters “DEA,” carried what appeared to be a .45 caliber handgun in a thigh holster, and possessed an identification card purportedly issued by the DEA. The Doraville Corporal also saw that Harbison possessed a realistic gold and blue badge embossed with the letters “US.”
The Doraville Corporal told Harbison that he was a Doraville Police Officer and asked Harbison why his LED lights were green and white. The indictment alleges that in response to the question, Harbison replied that his LED lights were green and white because he was a federal officer. The Doraville Corporal then stated that other police officers were in route to check the validity of Harbison’s law enforcement credentials – whereupon Harbison returned to his car and fled the scene.
Further investigation led Doraville and Dunwoody Police Officers to Harbison’s residence and ultimately, officers arrested him. From Harbison’s residence, police officers recovered several items, including: (a) a Springfield .45 caliber handgun, (b) a DEA T-shirt, (c) LED lights, (d) an identification card purportedly issued by the DEA, and (e) a gold and blue badge embossed with the letters “US.” Harbison has previously been convicted of a felony and as a result, could not legally possess the gun.
On April 23, 2015, a grand jury charged Harbison, 40, of Dunwoody, Georgia, with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Doraville Police Department, and Drug Enforcement Administration.
Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey W. Davis and Special Assistant United States Attorney Erin E. Sanders are prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/.