Police impersonator owned machine gun

An Augusta man with a history of pretending to be a police officer admitted Tuesday that he illegally possessed a machine gun.

Wycliffe D. Capps, 35, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court. He faces up to 10 years in prison when sentenced.

Mr. Capps has been arrested several times in the past decade for pretending to be a police officer. When sheriff's officers and federal agents searched his home July 19, they found the machine gun and eight other weapons, in addition to police paraphernalia.

The officers suspected that Mr. Capps was involved with a July 18 fire that was set inside First Alliance Church. The minister told the officers that the man who lived next door to the church, Mr. Capps, had told him several times that he was police officer, ATF Special Agent Ronald Rhodes testified Tuesday.

Mr. Capps told the judge that he knew he wasn't supposed to own a firearm because he is a convicted felon.

Mr. Capps was sentenced in Richmond County Superior Court to two years' probation under the First Offender Act for impersonating a police officer in May 2005. Although he was charged in three incidents, he was allowed to plead guilty to a single charge.

In 1999, Mr. Capps was charged with impersonating a police officer on five occasions -- once when he pulled a young female motorist over. At the time he was wearing a handgun and a vest with the word "sheriff" printed on it.

The charges in those incidents were reduced to misdemeanor offenses, and Mr. Capps received probation.

Since his arrest last summer, Mr. Capps has been held without bond. Federal and state weapon charges were filed against him.

No federal court sentencing date has been set.

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