LAWFUEL – US Law News – A “security consultant” was arrested today on a federal charge that accuses him of impersonating a federal agent in an attempt to persuade Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to hire him to provide security services.
Nelson Mercado, 46, of Torrance, was arrested without incident this morning by special agents with the United States Secret Service. Mercado was arrested pursuant to an indictment that was returned yesterday by a federal grand jury in Santa Ana and that accuses him of impersonating a federal agent for financial gain.
Sunset Protective Services and Investigations (SPSI) is a private security company that provides armed bodyguard services to individuals and corporate clients, including Mr. Pitt and Ms. Jolie. Mercado allegedly told SPSI that he was a special agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and that he provided bodyguard and security services for famous athletes and entertainers while off-duty. Mercado allegedly specifically sought the security contract and hourly payments to provide security services for Mr. Pitt and Ms. Jolie.
The one-count indictment alleges that Mercado falsely assumed and pretended to be a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security from as early as August 2005 through at least May 18, 2006. It further alleges that Mercado carried and used fraudulent credentials claiming that he was a special agent with DHS. The Indictment further alleges that Mercado drove a Ford Crown Victoria with tinted windows and a police light package, which was fraudulently registered to the “US Dept of Homeland Security of America.”
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Mercado is expected to make his initial appearance tomorrow afternoon in United States District Court in Santa Ana.
If convicted of the charge contained in the indictment, Mercado faces a statutory maximum penalty of three years in federal prison.
This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Brett A. Sagel
Release No. 06-120