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By Derrick Mahone
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA - Rule No. 1 of impersonating a police officer: Don't pull over your neighbor.
Police say 21-year-old Vincent Mercaldo III of Marietta used his black 2000 Volvo and a blue strobe light to make a traffic stop about 11 p.m. on Oct. 10. To his surprise, it was his neighbor from across the street.
Chad Wilson said Mercaldo pulled up behind him on Friendship Church Road near Dallas Highway in Marietta. Wilson pulled into a subdivision thinking he had been stopped by a police officer. As Mercaldo, exited his car wearing plain clothes, Wilson recognized him immediately and began questioning him.
Mercaldo told Wilson he was a federal officer and had the right to make traffic stops. Wilson said he was told he was going a little fast and had a tail light out.
"He said he wasn't going to write any tickets, but was just warning people," Wilson said.
Wilson, 20, said his neighbor's story didn't sound right.
"Ever since I've known him, he has always tried to pretend he was someone he wasn't."
Mercaldo's latest impersonation has landed him in jail on charges of false imprisonment and impersonating a police officer. His bond is $25,000.
Cobb County police Officer B.E. Poteet arrested Mercaldo on Dallas Highway Wednesday after spotting the car.
The officer found an authentic-looking air pistol, handcuffs and a badge apparently purchased on the Internet, according to the report.
The incident appears to be isolated, said police spokeswoman Cassie Reece.
She cautioned anyone who feels uncomfortable about being pulled over to call 911.
"People should always pull into well-lit areas," she added.

Wire Service
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