CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Michigan man who falsely claimed he worked for U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart got an opportunity to meet the federal prosecutor in southern West Virginia for the first time, in court.
“This guy doesn’t work for me and is clearly not the type of person who could ever work for me. First – not smart. Second – an absolute fraudster. Finally – an absolute fake,” ” said Stuart.
Joseph Ziegler, 55, of Michigan was convicted by a federal jury in Charleston this week on two counts of impersonating a federal officer or employee. Ziegler was pulled over in Clay County in April of this year for DUI. He told officers he was an assistant U.S. Attorney on assignment by Stuart in an attempt to avoid arrest. He also told the tow truck driver he was the Federal Prosecutor and would prosecute the company if they did not return the vehicle he was driving.
“I can tell you if I get pulled over for DUI, which will never happen, nobody is giving me a break. Working for me is not going to get you a break and in fact there are a lot of folks who would probably double-prosecute you if that’s the case.
It’s a bizarre case, but one Stuart said is incredibly dangerous because it erodes public trust in government representatives.
“You don’t see prosecution for impersonating a federal officer very often, but it’s important we bring those cases because the public, when faced by somebody saying they work for the federal government, should be able to rely on that,” he said.
Ziegler faces 3 years in prison when sentenced on December 2, 2019.