Massachusetts State Police have arrested a man who impersonated an EMS official and tried to help an inmate escape from jail.
MSP troopers apprehended William Lessor, 75, at the North Central Correctional Institution (NCCI) in Gardner, WFXT-TV reports. Prison staff reportedly contacted police after Lessor tried to pick up an inmate on March 18.
When Lessor arrived at the prison, detectives said the prison staff grew wary of his “bright reflective jacket” and “gold EMS Deputy Chief badge.” Then, when Lessor told the prison workers he was there to transport the inmate to Boston Federal Court, they called the cops.
"I think that was the first red flag for them," Worcester Sheriff Superintendent David Tuttle told WFXT-TV. Tuttle said MSP troopers called him a few hours later, asking if Lessor was related to the Worcester Sheriff's Office.
According to state records, when officers searched Lessor's car at the prison, they discovered police and fire radios, handcuffs, a baton, a Worcester County Sheriff's badge and ID, and homemade business cards.
"It's really scary that these folks are out there, impersonating law enforcement," Tuttle said.
Troopers detained Lessor on charges of impersonating a police officer and aiding a felon.
On March 1, prison officials logged a phone conversation between Lessor and prisoner Antonio Zappa, according to court documents. Zappa reportedly asked Lessor to pick him up on March 18 and told him to wear an EMS uniform during the act.
Zappa was convicted of financial crimes in connection to his former EMS service company, New England Ambulance, in 2012 and has been serving his sentence at NCCI.
State records indicate that New England Ambulance was disbanded after Zappa was convicted for using the business to steal tens of thousands of dollars from a disabled man in Lynn, Massachusetts.
In yet another twist, the victim was Lessor’s brother, according to Lynn Police records. Zappa and Lessor have had a relationship for almost 30 years.
Lessor refused to comment on the charges when asked by WFXT-TV.
Zappa has now been moved into federal custody, where he starts a separate 36-month sentence after being found guilty of defrauding 20 victims out of nearly $7 million in an investment fraud scheme, according to the FBI official website.