A man who came under heavy scrutiny for falsely representing himself as a US Army Ranger at a Stockton college campus two years ago is now in trouble with the law, this time after portraying himself as a Stanislaus County deputy sheriff and firing a gun in a residential neighborhood in Modesto.
Riverbank Police Services Chief Erin Kiely said that on Nov. 30 a citizen reported to the Riverbank Police that Joseph Matthew Scott, 25, was wearing a makeshift sheriff’s uniform with SWAT insignia. Scott had told the individual that he was a Stanislaus Sheriff’s deputy and was a member of their SWAT team. During the contact that occurred in Modesto, Scott produced a handgun and fired it negligently within the city limits.
“That’s when he thought this was highly uncharacteristic of a deputy sheriff and made the report to our agency,” Chief Kiely said. “We felt this type of incident would require immediate action.”
The investigation was turned over to the Sheriffs Team Investigating Narcotics and Gangs (STING) and an arrest warrant and search warrant was issued for Scott’s home in Modesto.
On Dec. 6 investigators searched the home, which revealed law enforcement equipment including a police baton.
Kiely said the gun used in the incident was not one of the items recovered, but investigators later located the firearm and it is in safekeeping.
Scott was taken into custody and booked into the Stanislaus County Jail for felony sections of negligent discharge of a firearm and unlawful possession of a police baton. Investigators are still exploring the possibility of charging Scott with impersonation of a peace officer.
In March 2014, Scott was the focus of controversy when he was at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton wearing a military uniform with a Ranger patch.
At the time there was widespread furor over his actions by many on campus, especially veterans, but campus police stated there was no enforceable action that could be taken without violating Scott’s constitutional rights.
Scott, who was denied admittance into the military on two occasions, later apologized and told a local television news affiliate that he wore the military uniform in honor of the veterans in his family.
“He switched gears from falsely representing himself as a US Army Ranger to a Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputy,” Chief Kiely said. “We want to make people aware in case Scott has represented himself with authority attached to them.”