Trial is set in fake officer case

A June 23 trial date has been set for an Augusta man who has a history of impersonating a police officer and is now facing weapon charges.

The trial of Wycliffe Capps, who has pleaded not guilty and is in custody, will be in Augusta's U.S. District Court.

At a hearing Tuesday, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge W. Leon Barfield told Mr. Capps' attorney that based on his understanding of federal statutes and case law, a July search of Mr. Capps' home was lawful.

But Judge Barfield agreed to give attorney Pete Theodocion 10 days to find a valid reason to change his mind.

Mr. Capps caught the attention of Richmond County sheriff officers as they were investigating the break-ins and arson at First Alliance Church on Ingleside Drive. Mr. Capps lived next door, the pastor and his wife told Investigator Robin Ashmore. Mr. Capps reportedly told both of them he was a law enforcement officer.

The investigators suspected Mr. Capps might have started a fire in the pastor's office on July 18, and they suspect he called 911 pretending to be the head of the Augusta based public defender's office. Investigator Ashmore obtained a search warrant for Mr. Capps' home and vehicle. Officers reported finding a storehouse of police paraphernalia and guns.

As a convicted felon, Mr. Capps isn't allowed to possess any weapon.

Officers found six handguns, two rifles, a shotgun and a machine gun at Mr. Capps home, according to the search warrant.

They also allegedly found crime scene tape, handcuffs, a Breathalyzer type device, a speed detection gun, a South Carolina Highway Patrol ticket folder and a card with the agency's codes, a Columbia County sheriff's badge and 10 flex-cuffs.

In his car, officers said they discovered a shotgun affixed to the roof, lights in front and rear windows, a police style radio mounted to the front console, and an attached decal that said "Caution K9 stay back."

After the search, Mr. Capps was indicted in state and federal courts on weapon charges.

The charges in federal court are punishable by a higher maximum sentence -- as much as 10 years in prison. The maximum punishment for the state charges is five years.

Mr. Capps has several prior arrests of impersonating a police officer.

One of the charges resulted when Mr. Capps, wearing a "sheriff" vest and carrying a handgun, tricked a young female motorist into stopping for him. A second attempt on another young woman failed.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

ANOTHER IMPERSONATION

One of the most recent arrests on charges of impersonating a police officer occurred April 7 at the Mayor's Masters Reception. Evan B. Campbell, 18, of Ridge Spring, S.C., is accused of attending the event dressed in a paramilitary style "sheriff" outfit, complete with handcuffs, pepper spay and a loaded 9 mm gun. Mr. Campbell is free on a $11,200 bond.