KEY POINTS

  • The two men were carrying fake cards and badges
  • One of the resort employees called the police after finding the men suspicious
  • The men were charged with impersonating a federal officer

While countries around the world are unanimously recommending the use of face masks to stem the spread of COVID-19, two men have been accused of posing as federal officers to avoid wearing masks at a South Florida hotel.

When the men, identified as Walter Wayne Brown Jr. and Gary Brummett, were asked by the staff at the Wyndham Deerfield Beach Resort to wear face masks, they refused and threatened to arrest the employees. They also reportedly threatened to impose a fine on the hotel. 

One of the employees found this behavior suspicious and called the police on Feb. 11. When the police and a real marshal got there, the two were arrested and charged with impersonation, according to South Florida SunSentinel

According to the hotel manager, Brummett was asked to cover his face when he went to the front desk to ask for coffee. He showed them a laminated card and insisted that he was medically exempt from wearing one. 

When he was asked again, he pointed to a badge attached to his belt and said he was a U.S. marshal, SunSentinel reported. 

The hotel had a similar experience with Brown Jr. An employee gave him a mask and asked him to wear it, but Brown Jr. said he was a federal agent and did not have to, according to The Associated Press. He was also wearing the badge and carrying a card. 

When he returned the next day to the front desk, he was again asked to wear a mask, but he threatened to arrest the staff member.

The complaint noted that the two were wearing badges that read “Cherokee Nation Marshal”, but investigators found that they had never been employed as U.S. marshals or by the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service. The mask exempt cards were also fake. 

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had last year warned against the face mask exemption cards, which were making the rounds on social media. The DOJ's Civil Rights Division said that the cards, which claimed the holder cannot disclose the condition that exempts them from following the face mask rule under the Americans with Disabilities Act, were fake. 

Face Mask Representative image. Photo: Ri Butov/Pixabay