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Wading River woman pleads guilty to impersonating an NYPD officer

A Wading River woman and ex-volunteer firefighter pleaded guilty on Thursday to falsely posing as an NYPD officer during her work with the Wading River Fire Department.

Mary Ortega, 46, pleaded guilty to one felony count of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and one misdemeanor count of second-degree criminal impersonation, said Tania Lopez, a spokesperson for Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney.

Prosecutors said Ms. Ortega admitted that she has never been involved with or held a volunteer position with the NYPD and told investigators that she purchased the phony shield and attire online.

“She recognized the need to take responsibility for her actions, and she did that,” said John Ladis, an attorney from the Long Island law firm that represented Ms. Ortega.

Ms. Ortega will serve three years of probation, with mandated mental health treatment as a component of her probation obligations. If she completes a year of probation without incident, the felony charge will be vacated at her sentencing, while the misdemeanor charge will stand, according to Ms. Lopez. Ms. Ortega’s sentencing has been scheduled for May 30, 2024.

Prosecutors have previously said that Ms. Ortega was suspended by the Wading River Fire Department in May 2022 after reporting for shifts at the firehouse and responding to a call in an NYPD uniform. She was later found to be in possession of “numerous pieces” of fake NYPD insignia, including an identification card, police shield and other attire.

In response to the suspension, Ms. Ortega provided the chief of the department with a forged ID and two forged letters purportedly written by state Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Borough Park) and Kings County District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, which falsely referred to Ms. Ortega as a member of the New York City Police Department and referenced a “fictitious assignment” with an undercover gang and drug unit within the department.

Ms. Ortega was initially charged with three counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, three counts of first-degree falsifying business records, three counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing — all felonies — and a misdemeanor charge of second-degree criminal impersonation.

Kevin McQueeney, a commissioner on the Wading River Fire District Board of Commissioners, declined to comment on Ms. Ortega’s guilty plea on Thursday evening.

In a statement following her January, 2023 arrest, Mr. Tierney said that Ms. Ortega “violated the trust” of the Wading River community with her misconduct.

“My office supports the brave men and women in law enforcement, and part of that support is holding accountable those who would attempt to wrongfully benefit from their honor.”