YUMA - A Yuma man accused of equipping his car with police lights and pulling over speeders in his neighborhood is an award-winning Border Patrol agent, authorities confirmed.
Paul Skaists, 62, was arrested over the weekend by the Yuma County Sheriff's Office and charged with one count of impersonating a peace officer and one count of unlawful imprisonment.
Sheriff's officials said they will still seek formal charges because Skaists is not a certified Arizona peace officer authorized by state law to stop motorists for traffic violations.
"I don't care what he does for a living, he still broke the law," Sheriff's Maj. Leon Wilmot said Wednesday. "That's one of our philosophies ... for many many years. Nobody is too big to fit inside this jail. If they break the law they're going to be charged with it."
"Obviously this individual broke the law and we're charging him with it."
Skaists was named the Yuma Law Enforcement Officer of the Year and Arizona's Law Officer of the Year by the American Legion in 2002. He is currently on administrative leave because of the incident, said Eric Anderson, a Border Patrol spokesman.
Skaists apparently decided to take action against speeders in his neighborhood by equipping his 2006 Dodge Charger with police lights and pulling over drivers who were speeding. Sheriff's officials said he gave the motorists verbal warnings and let them go.
During his arraignment Tuesday, Skaists asked a judge for permission to leave the state, saying he had an appointment with a psychiatrist in El Centro. The judge granted the request and he was allowed to remain free on his own recognizance.
He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.