Feds Probe False Deportation at Lindbergh Field - NBC 7 San Diego

Feds Probe False Deportation at Lindbergh Field



    Feds Probe False Deportation at Lindbergh Field
    Courtesy of the Press-Enterprise
    Craig and Cherriebelle Hibbard in happier times

    Authorities are trying to unravel a case involving distant relatives, alleged federal marshal imposter and a plane that flew out of Lindbergh Field.

    Police arrested Greg Raymond Denny Jr. of Riverside County last month on suspicion of impersonating an officer and kidnapping Cherriebelle Hibbard.

    Police said Denny, 37, barged into Hibbard's Hemet home on Jan. 15 wearing a fake badge and a shirt that said "U.S. Marshal." Denny handcuffed the woman at gunpoint and forced her husband to buy her a plane ticket. He then used a fake badge to get through San Diego airport security and put her on a plane to the Philippines, her home country, according to a police report.

    "The Transportation Security Administration is aware of and reviewing an incident where an individual allegedly presented falsified law enforcement credentials at San Diego's Lindbergh Field on Jan. 15, 2010," officials said in a statement released Thursday.

    A supervisor at the airport was given remedial training in the wake of the incident, according to an officials with the Department of Homeland Security, who added that federal officials are working with law enforcement to review procedures so that the situation would not be repeated.

    Craig Hibbard said he called the U.S. Marshals Service three days after the false deportation and officials there told him Denny wasn't an agent.

    Police said they arrested Denny after he came to the station for questioning wearing a fake badge and a replica pistol. Denny claimed he was a federal marshal but later admitted he impersonated a marshal and confirmed the family's account, Lt. Mark Richards said. No motive was released.

    Denny told the Press-Enterprise newspaper Monday that the kidnapping claims were false, but he provided no further details.

    Cherriebelle, who is five months pregnant, wed Hibbard three years ago. She canceled her immigration documents and said she wanted to go home after the two fought last year, Craig said. His wife later renewed her green card and was waiting for it to be processed when Denny abducted her, Craig said. Immigration officials in San Bernardino told her she was allowed to stay in the United States in the meantime, he said.

    Denny said Craig's father told him Cherriebelle was in the country illegally and the couple was having problems at home, the Press-Enterprise reported. Denny and Craig Hibbard are distant cousins, but Hibbard said they met only twice before.

    Hemet police said they forwarded the case to the San Diego FBI.

    The Riverside County district attorney's office could file charges or refer the case to the U.S. attorney's office. The U.S. Marshal's Service is investigating and the Transportation Security Administration is reviewing the incident, officials said.

    In a phone interview from Manila, Cherriebelle told the newspaper that she had never met Denny and didn't realize he was related to her husband. She said she was afraid of going to jail when he pounded on the door.

    ''I'm pregnant and don't want to take the kids away from my husband,'' she said.

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Lori Haley said federal marshals do not carry out deportation orders. Only ICE or FBI agents can make arrests for immigration violations. The defendant then gets a hearing before a deportation order is issued.

    Denny is free on $75,000 bail, according to the Hemet Police Department.