A 57-year-old man thought he had come up with the perfect date when he chartered a helicopter and pretended to be a three star military general to pick up a woman from her job at a North Carolina technology company.
A federal agent testified Monday before a federal magistrate that Christian Desgroux emerged from a helicopter wearing "full military battle dress uniform" with three stars on it implying the rank of a lieutenant general.
Homeland Security Special Agent Tony Bell testified Desgroux landed the helicopter on a soccer field at the corporate campus of SAS Institute in Car.
When security officers approached, Desgroux even saluted them. "He saluted the security officers, and they actually saluted him back," Bell said.
One security supervisor became suspicious of Desgroux and confronted him, that is when Desgroux told him he was there to pick up a female employee to take her to Fort Bragg for a classified briefing authorized by President Donald Trump.
"She had no idea that he was flying a helicopter to pick her up," Bell said. He also testified Desgroux wanted to pursue a romantic relationship but the woman was married.
Bell told the magistrate, "She didn't know what to make of it. She just went along with it." He also said he suspected Desgroux is mentally ill.
No one was harmed in the event, but when the woman returned, SAS security staff notified local police and a joint terrorism task force joined the case.
An official statement from the privately held company, one of the largest in the state, said that company officials "do not know his intention or reason for picking up a SAS employee."
The judge noted that while the charge of impersonating a military officer carries a maximum sentence of 3 years, the circumstances warrant continued detention for Desgroux.
"The defendant has engaged in substantial dishonesty," the judge said. Desgroux also had a number of unrelated state criminal charges also pending against him.
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