Liz Rogers, the former owner of Mahogany’s restaurant, has been found guilty of misdemeanor impersonating a police officer.
The verdict was announced Tuesday in Butler County Area III Court by Judge Dan Haughey following a one-day bench trial last week.
Rogers, 46, of Liberty Twp., waived her right to a jury trial, so the case was tried by Haughey. It took just three hours and four witnesses, including Rogers, to present evidence in the misdemeanor case.
The fourth-degree misdemeanour carried a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail and a $250 fine. Haughey noted Rogers had no prior criminal record when he imposed a $150 fine and one year probation, but no time behind bars.
Prosecutors said on the morning of March 17, Rogers gave a worker for National Asset Recovery Specialists a wallet containing a badge when he blocked the white Mercedes she was driving at the UDF on Hamilton-Mason Road in an attempt to repossess the car. Rogers told the worker she was a police officer and asked the worker to follow her to her Tarragon Court home so that she could secure her gun. When they got to the home, she pulled into the garage and the door was shut, the prosecution said during opening statements.
Defense attorney Clyde Bennett said Rogers didn’t know the white Mercedes belonging to her husband was in default, and she gave the worker the wallet containing her identification along with a commemorative badge given to family members of her sister who was a Cleveland police officer injured in a car crash. Bennett said Rogers wanted the repo worker to follow her home so that her husband could clear up the matter.
Haughey said he considered both Rogers’ statements to West Chester police and her testimony during the trial, and pointed out some inconsistencies. He also examined the wallet and badge with a velvet cover that Rogers said was tucked around the badge itself. Haughey said the impressions on the velvet didn’t appear to line up with being tucked around the badge.
Haughey said he found “the testimony offered by Mrs. Rogers was not credible.”
After the short hearing, Rogers maintained her innocence.
“I am still innocent. The judge didn’t vote that way, but I respect the judge’s decision, and I hope to put this behind me and continue with business,” Rogers said. “Never in a million years would I pretend to be a police officer. Everybody in this city knows exactly who I am. And one thing that has never been written about me is that I am stupid; I am very intelligent.”
Bennett said, “I am disappointed with the verdict. If I am trying a case, I am trying to win a case.”
Bennett said he respects the judge’s decision, but he does not agree with it. Bennett added there are also no regrets in Rogers not taking an offer of diversion in the case.
“Mrs. Rogers is a fighter, like some clients that I have. They chose to fight a case as compared to somebody receiving something from them or getting something from them. They are going to make them take it, and I don’t have a problem with that,” Bennett said.
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