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Tex. Firefighter Charged for Impersonating a Public Servant

Victoria Advocate, Texas

Aug. 28—A Port O'Connor volunteer firefighter faces a felony charge for telling a Victoria Advocate delivery woman he was a sheriff's office employee and she was going to jail, authorities said Monday.

Troy Christopher Beaudry, 48, of Port O'Connor, is charged with impersonating a public servant, a third-degree felony, and was arrested Saturday morning on a warrant, said Calhoun County Sheriff Bobbie Vickery.

Fire Chief Nathan O'Neil, of the Port O'Connor Volunteer Fire Department, said Beaudry will remain a member of the department at least until he is convicted.

Beaudry could not be reached for comment Monday.

On the morning of July 13, Dawna Gwynne Harabis, 33, who works as a newspaper carrier for the Victoria Advocate, was making deliveries in the 1500 block of Van Buren Avenue of Port O'Connor when she was stopped by Beaudry, Vickery said.

Beaudry told authorities he stopped Harabis because she was driving too fast and running stop signs.

After Beaudry used his truck to block Harabis' vehicle in a driveway, the carrier backed into his truck.

Beaudry then exited his truck and began yelling at Harabis, telling her that she was going to be arrested, Vickery said. Additionally, Beaudry improperly activated his vehicle's red-and-white emergency flashing lights and claimed he was with the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office.

According to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, Beaudry has never completed a law enforcement academy or served as a peace officer.

After Harabis complained to the sheriff's office, investigators corroborated her story, in part by speaking with a person the carrier was on the phone with at the time.

Sharon Preslar, a 72-year-old Port O'Connor resident, said she didn't think the allegations against Beaudry were true in part because of his character, which she commended.

"I dont feel he's guilty. I usually mind my own business, but I feel for him," said Preslar, who taught Beaudry during her estimated 30-year career as a substitute teacher.

Preslar described Beaudry, who works as a carpenter, as hardworking.

But Preslar did have criticism for Harabis and her driving.

"She drives very fast. She's flying," said Preslar, who added the woman has twice nearly injured her husband on his morning walks.

Kevin Thaete, circulation director for the Victoria Advocate, said he was unaware of any complaints against Harabis, who is employed as a contractor. However, all contractors who work for the newspaper are asked to comply with local, state and federal laws as part of their contract, he said.

Anyone who wishes to complain about Harabis or another employee may call the newspaper directly at 361-575-1451. Thaete also encouraged readers to notify authorities of illegal activity by employees and contractors.

If Beaudry had complained to the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office that Harabis was speeding, investigators would have happily investigated her, Vickery said.

Instead, the firefighter's handling of the situation constituted a crime, he said.

Third-degree felonies carry a possible sentence of 2-10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Beaudry was released from the Calhoun County Jail on Saturday.

According to Texas criminal records, Beaudry has previous convictions, including possession of marijuana in 1989, driving while intoxicated in 1996 and driving with license invalid in 1996.

"(People) do not have the authority to restrain somebody's freedom if they are not peace officers," the sheriff said. "There is a reason peace officers go through the training they do."

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