Man who allegedly impersonated CIA agent has history of impersonating federal officers, officials say

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(COLUMBUS, Ga.) -- Robert Earhart Jr. was an agent with the Central Intelligence Agency's "protective operations division" with a Top Secret security clearance, and he needed a meeting with the Department of Justice.

Or at least that is what Earhart, 38, of Columbus, Georgia, allegedly said in a voicemail he left with the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia on Jan. 11.

The federal official with whom he tried to schedule a meeting unsealed a complaint last week charging Earhart with false personation of an officer or employee of the United States.

The United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Georgia also alleged that Earhart has a history of representing himself as a federal official. The DOJ said that in May 2019, Earhart identified himself as an agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency and attempted to free three inmates from Muscogee County Jail in Georgia. According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's office, Earhart also allegedly represented himself as a Homeland Security agent.

Earhart on Jan. 11 allegedly made a phone call in which he posed as a CIA agent to schedule a meeting with U.S. Attorney Peter Leary, one of the chief federal law enforcement officials in the state of Georgia. The U.S. Attorney's Office alleges that Earhart specifically mentioned his involvement with the "protective operations division" and said he held a top-secret clearance.

The CIA does not publicly advertise a "protective operations division," though a popular souvenir site sells a replica movie prop badge for the "protective operations division" for $70.

The CIA hires "protective agents" who "deploy worldwide to perform sensitive operations in support of protective requirements to defend our nation from those that try to do us harm," according to a CIA job posting. That particular role requires six years of combined military or law enforcement experience, preferably in a special operations unit like the Navy Seals or Army Rangers.

Bad actors in the past have impersonated CIA officers, utilizing the covert nature of the agency to establish credibility. A former DEA public affairs officer was sentenced to seven years for impersonating a covert CIA officer to defraud $4.4 million from over a dozen companies, according to a press release from the DOJ.

Earhart faces up to three years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Monday, February 13, 2023 at 7:11AM by Peter Charalambous, ABC News Permalink