A Utah man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that he posed as a federal agent to try to secure VIP passes to Salt Lake Comic Con.
Twenty-nine-year-old Jonathon M. Wall of Layton, Utah, was indicted in October on charges of impersonating a federal officer and making a false statement to a federal agent. If found guilty, he faces up to three years in prison on the first count and up to five years on the second. Each count also carries a potential fine of $250,000.
Prosecutors say that Wall appeared Sept. 24 at the Salt Lake City convention, where he identified himself as an agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and demanded two all-access passes so he could enter the VIP area to apprehend a fugitive.
However, Wall apparently drew the suspicion of a retired Salt Lake City police officer who was providing security at the convention. When Wall couldn’t satisfactorily answer questions about the AFOSI and the alleged fugitive, the security guard notified actual AFOSI agents, who arrived to question the suspect themselves. He reportedly admitted to investigators that he came up with the idea on the spot.
The Associated Press reports that his attorney, Dan Drage, said Wall didn't realize the seriousness of his actions. "What he thought at the time wasn't a big deal, was a big deal," he said. "He has said many times, 'I didn't think I would get into this kind of trouble.'"
Wall is scheduled to return to court Feb. 8 for a two-day trial.