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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 27, 2001

Lt. Michael Siegelski, Station Cmdr.
Bellmawr Station
(856) 933-0662
John R. Hagerty, State Police Public Information Office
(609) 882-2000 x6515


Joint Investigation Tracking Potential Victims

       Bellmawr - Camden County Prosecutor Lee A. Solomon, Chief Robert E. Allenbach of the Camden City Police Department, Captain Richard E. Gilbert, State Police Troop A Commander and Lt. Michael Siegelski, Station Commander, State Police Bellmawr Station, today announced the arrest of two Camden City men on charges stemming from their alleged activities involving the impersonation of New Jersey state troopers.

        The defendants are identified as Harry Dawes, 37, of 529 Jackson St., Camden and Albert Lopez, 34, of 153 Pfeiffer St., Camden. Both individuals have been charged with armed robbery, theft and impersonating a New Jersey state trooper and both remain in custody in the Camden County Jail in lieu of bail.

       According to Capt. Gilbert, Prosecutor Solomon and Chief Allenbach, the investigation got underway on Nov. 9 when a Camden resident appeared at the State Police Bellmawr Station requesting information regarding the return of U.S. currency allegedly seized by a state trooper while conducting an investigation in Camden City. Initial information provided by the Camden City resident alerted the State Police of the possible impersonation of a state trooper by an unauthorized person and the robbery of the victim. The citizen inquiry then became the catalyst for a joint agency investigation by the State Police, Camden City Police Department and the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.

        Detectives assigned to the joint agency investigation developed information from various sources - information which served to "paint a picture" of the two individuals posing as so-called plainclothes New Jersey state troopers in and around Camden City. The "modus operandi" as described by victims of the alleged impersonators was that two armed white males would approach the citizen, briefly "flash" law enforcement badges and identify themselves as state troopers. The purported law enforcement officers would then "confiscate" cash, valuables and illegal narcotics from the victims.

        Various investigative leads were pursued that resulted in detailed physical descriptions of the wanted subjects. The principal subject, subsequently identified as Albert Lopez, was described as 5'10" in height, weighing approximately 250 lbs. with a shaved head and blue eyes. The second subject, subsequently identified as Harry Dawes, was described as 5'7" tall, weighing approximately 160 lbs. with short brown hair and brown eyes. A significant feature of the Dawes description was that his left pinky and ring finger were missing or amputated. Photo lineups, victim information and investigation details ultimately identified Lopez as a principal suspect. Additional information provided by victims, combined with investigative leads developed by the assigned detectives, led to the identification of a suspect vehicle - a 1991 white Chevrolet Caprice.

       On Fri., Nov. 23, detectives began a surveillance at 153 Pfeiffer Street in Camden. The two subjects were observed leaving the residence and entering the suspect vehicle. The surveillance followed the suspects into Lower Southampton Township, Bucks County, PA, where they were stopped by uniformed officers from the Southampton Police Department as they traveled on Bridgeton Pike near the Old Bristol Road. State Police detectives confirmed the identification of the suspects and both Lopez and Dawes agreed to return to the Camden City Police Department where they were charged with the criminal violations.

       A search of the 1991 Chevrolet Caprice uncovered a State Police windbreaker, two "Fugitive Recovery Agent" badges, two sets of handcuffs, two flashlights, one red flashing emergency light, a hand-held police scanner and additional items of evidence.

       Additional information developed by the investigation determined that the defendants may have robbed at least 70 individuals - as many as nine to 10 people a day on at least seven different days in the Camden City area. State Police and Camden P.D. detectives believe that there are a significant number of individuals who have been victimized and encourage anyone who may have been approached and robbed by the bogus law enforcement officers to contact the New Jersey State Police Bellmawr Station, the Camden Police Department or the Camden County Prosecutor's Office to report the crime.

       The investigation was coordinated by State Police DSG Jay Pennypacker. DSG Jeffrey Frampton and Det. Wayne Matthews of the Camden Police Department, along with Investigator James Bruno of the Camden County Prosecutor's Office provided expertise and resources to the investigation. Tpr. I Mark J. Wilhelm and Tpr. II Eric J. Hubbs of the Bellmawr Station also assisted in the investigation.

       The investigation remains active and ongoing and will be submitted to a Camden County Grand Jury by Prosecutor Solomon's office for review and potential indictment. Additional charges may be filed by the State Police. Persons with information related to the investigation are encouraged to contact DSG Jay Pennypacker at the New Jersey State Police Bellmawr Station at (856) 933-0662, DSG Jeffrey Frampton of the Camden Police Department at (856) 757-7432 or Camden County Prosecutor's Office investigator James Bruno at (856) 225-8400.

       All charges are allegations only. The defendants are presumed innocent until or unless proven guilty.

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