DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. – Two men are facing federal charges after they were arrested on accusations that they posed as U.S. marshals to get out of wearing facial coverings at the Wyndham Deerfield Beach Resort, the South Florida Sun Sentinel first reported.
Walter Wayne Brown Jr., 53, and Gary Brummett, 81, were arrested last Thursday on charges of impersonating a federal officer.
According to their criminal complaints, both men flashed fake badges to hotel employees when asked to wear a facial covering and threatened to have the employees arrested, claiming they did not have to wear masks because they were federal officers.
Authorities said Brummett also showed employees a laminated card that stated he was medically exempt from wearing one.
Employees eventually became suspicious about the duo and notified the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
One employee told deputies that her cousin is a U.S. marshal so she knew something was off.
According to the complaints, the men were confronted by authorities last week while dining at the resort.
Deputies said both men wore circular badges that read “Cherokee Nation Marshal,” which appeared authentic, but were fakes.
Authorities said the men also gave deputies ID cards identifying them as Aniyvwiya Tribal Nation members.
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. told the Sun Sentinel that neither men is a member of his tribe and that the “Aniyvwiya Tribal Nation is not a federally recognized tribe nor affiliated in any way with the Cherokee Nation.”
According to the complaints, both men also wore laminated cards around their necks that read, “face mask exempt notice/card.”
“I am exempt from any ordinance requiring face mask usage in public,” the cards read. “Wearing a face mask poses a mental and/or physical risk to me. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), I am not required to disclose my condition to you.”
The cards also listed a “Department of Justice ADA violation reporting number,” the complaints stated.
But according to authorities, those cards were also fake.
In fact, the Sun Sentinel reported that Eric Dreiband, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, made a statement over the summer “to debunk any card or document that claimed anyone was exempt from a face mask.”
“The ADA does not provide a blanket exemption to people with disabilities from complying with legitimate safety requirements,” he said.
Brown and Brummett remain behind bars at the Joseph V. Conte Facility on a Marshal’s hold.