Jesse David Stover is a 57-year-old resident of the Palm Terrace mobile home community in Bunnell. He has an active imagination. He has allegedly been impersonating law enforcement officers for two years, at least to get himself a discount at Wendy’s.
On Monday, his scheme ran out when he ran into a savvier manager, and finished the day facing a felony charge and getting booked at the Flagler County jail.
He’d walked into the Wendy’s at the corner of State Road 100 and Commerce Parkway and said something about how he was going to “kick some ass,” according to a customer who was standing in line. When it was Stover’s turn, he placed his order, then asked the cashier for the law enforcement discount. The cashier alerted Jamie Davis, the 44-year-old manager. Davis told Stover he wasn’t getting the discount. Stover insisted. Davis asked to see his credentials (though not necessarily posing the question made famous by Wendy’s). Stover flashed a gold-color badge in a flip of his wallet. Davis didn’t buy it. She wanted to see it up close.
Stover argued and threatened to have Davis fired by sending her picture to “corporate,” according to Stover’s arrest report. But if he was an actual law enforcement officer, Davis told him, why was he being so resistant to producing the proof? Stover fabricated another story: he was with the Drug Enforcement Agency, he said (though even DEA agents have proper credentials and don’t generally cause problems at fast food joints). He then told the manager that he didn’t have to show her his badge. He continued to be argumentative. Davis called 911.
The manager would then tell Bunnell police officers that Stover had been a customer for two years and used to get discounts because he was friends with a cashier who was no longer at that store. Once that employee was gone, Stover stopped getting discounts but started telling stories about working undercover for the DEA, usually an indication that the person making the claim is definitely not an undercover agent of any sort. To Davis, that was fraud, if it was used to get discounts for meals.
Stover admitted to getting discounts in the past from a cashier, but denied claiming he’d ever passed himself off as a law enforcement officer. As for the badge, “he admitted that he had a concealed carry badge within his wallet, and that he did show it to the employee after they requested to see it,” his arrest report states, then said “he was a police officer a long time ago, but he was fired because he was an alcoholic.” The police officer searched Stover and found the badge, engraved with the words “concealed weapon permit,” which could easily be confused with an officer’s badge.
He was arrested on a charge of impersonating a law enforcement officer, a third degree felony. He was released later that day on $2,500 bond. The arrest report states that while the restaurant had surveillance video, it was not acquired at the time of the arrest, but would be retrieved “at a later date and time.” Absent the video, the case would rest on the sort of he-said-she-said testimony prosecutors are usually uncomfortable with, if they are to pursue such charges.
Various chain restaurants at times offer 10 to 15 percent discounts on certain items to first responders, including law enforcement and EMTs.