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Man charged with posing as cop, ordering teens to strip

A 19-year-old Harvard man accused of searching two teenagers and their car while pretending to be a sheriff’s deputy was arrested this morning.

At 10:50 p.m. on May 15, Michael T. Spencer allegedly told a 15-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy that he was a McHenry County Sheriff’s officer. The teens were parked along the roadway hear the intersection of Streit and Lindwall roads southeast of Harvard when a dark vehicle pulled along their vehicle, sheriff’s police said.

Spencer asked the pair whether they had any drugs or alcohol as he searched the vehicle, Lt. Andy Zinke said. He allegedly ordered both teens out of the vehicle and searched their persons before they took their clothes off at his request.

Spencer left with their clothes and the boy’s driver’s license, Zinke said. He also smashed the boy’s cellular phone and punched him in the face.

Spencer was charged with robbery, burglary, aggravated false personation of a peace officer, aggravated battery and criminal damage to property. The most serious charge is typically punishable with probation or between three and seven years in prison.

Spencer, who was convicted last month of a misdemeanor for barking twice at a Harvard police dog inside a squad car, was convicted of felony marijuana possession in 2007, court records show. Felons are not eligible to have a firearm or to serve as police officers.

Spencer remained in McHenry County jail this afternoon unable to post 10 percent of his $50,000 bail.

Police recently reopened the case after receiving an anonymous tip, and more arrests are expected, Zinke said. Criminal activity or information about fugitives can be reported anonymously to CrimeStoppers at 800-762-7867. CrimeStoppers does not use caller ID.

Zinke cautioned that police officers generally show official identification when approaching subjects, especially if they are not in uniform.

Drivers who are signaled by an unmarked car should drive safely to a well-lit area, preferably in a crowded area, before pulling over, Zinke said. People who question the identity of a purported police officer also can use a cellular phone to call the local police department to confirm his or her employment, Zinke said.

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