Speed Reads

Nobody suspects the Masonic Fraternal Police Department

Aide to California AG accused of concocting bogus 3,000-year-old police force

California police have arrested three people claiming to represent a modern incarnation of the Knights Templar, one of whom, Brandon Kiel, works alongside California state Attorney General and U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris.

So how does one get caught impersonating a pseudo-biblical police force?

The three suspects — Kiel, David Henry, and Tonette Hayes — allegedly sent letters to police departments around Southern California identifying themselves as the Masonic Fraternal Police Department. They even had a real website for the fictional group claiming jurisdiction in 33 states "including Mexico City" and differentiating the MFPD from other police departments with the simple explanation, "We were here first!"

Yet when the real police met with the fake police, the latter couldn't offer coherent information about their organization, leading the former to conclude it "was not a legitimate police agency," according to a statement from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's department. Subsequent raids turned up weapons, badges, and uniforms for the phony cops.

"I always see them with their uniforms, so I thought they were part of any department," a neighbor for one of the suspects told the local CBS affiliate. "I didn't know it was a fake one."