Richard Stinson
Richard Stinson

January 5, 2017

A 27-year-old man who impersonated a police officer in 2015 at a Jefferson casino was arrested Tuesday in Ames for pretending to be a firefighter.

Richard Dean Stinson, formerly of Coon Rapids, faces three new charges of impersonating a public official following several weeks of investigation, according to court records.

“The whole thing is really, really odd,” said Geoff Huff, a patrol commander for the Ames Police Department.

An Ames police officer stopped Stinson in late November for driving with a suspended license and noticed the car he drove had blue emergency lights that firefighters are allowed — by law — to put on their personal vehicles.

Stinson told the officer he was a volunteer firefighter in Clear Lake and in Nebraska, court records show. The officer subsequently found that Stinson was not a volunteer in Clear Lake and that he apparently named a fictitious fire department in Nebraska.

When he was questioned two weeks later about his purported firefighter affiliations, Stinson provided a state application for the flashing blue lights, in which he claimed to be the owner of the car — which wasn’t true — and a fire chief.

Stinson claimed his not-for-profit organization, Stinson Ministries, is a private firefighting company. However, in state documents filed in October, Stinson said: “My non-profit will be used to help the homeless and needy across the country.”

It’s unclear what work the organization has done for the homeless and needy.

Three days later, Stinson stopped at a two-vehicle crash on the south side of Ames with his blue lights flashing and claimed to be a firefighter, according to a criminal complaint against him. Stinson allegedly claimed to be a member of the Ames Fire Department and took photos of the crash scene. He left when police officers arrived.

Stinson was arrested Tuesday and is held in Story County Jail.

Officers confiscated the lights and a ballcap with the word “sheriff” on it. They suspect he might have impersonated public officials at other times and seek resident tips. Anyone with information about other possible incidents can call the Ames Police Department at (515) 239-5133.

“We’re not aware of him putting anyone in danger, other than him stopping at one of our accident scenes, which can be dangerous,” Huff said. “We don’t really have a good reason for why he’s doing this. He’s pretty committed.”

Stinson had most recently lived in Nevada, Huff said.

In August 2015, Stinson lived in Coon Rapids and pretended to be a police officer at Wild Rose Casino & Resort in Jefferson, court records show. Details of the incident were not immediately available.

Stinson later pleaded guilty to impersonating a public official and received a deferred judgment, in which he was not formally convicted if he abided by the terms of his two-year probation.

His probation officer wrote on Wednesday that Stinson has violated that probation with his recent charges in Ames, along with a theft charge in Mason City in November.

Stinson’s charges in Story County are each punishable by up to two years in prison.