It’s never a good idea to impersonate a cop — apparently not even on social media.
Miami Beach resident Ernesto Orsetti, 48, was arrested Thursday afternoon and charged with impersonating Ernesto Rodriguez, the Beach police department’s spokesman, through a fake Twitter account created in January.
Orsetti, a former model who is described as unemployed on his arrest report, faces a third-degree felony charge, which carries a prison term of up to five years.
The fake account featured a profile picture of Rodriguez and a banner photo of a Miami Beach police car, and it shared tweets by other city officials. Multiple local journalists, including a Miami Herald reporter, noticed the fake account in January and asked Rodriguez about it. At the time, Rodriguez confirmed the account, @ernierodmb, was not his.
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As the police department’s spokesman, Rodriguez is active on the department’s official social media accounts. He also maintains a separate Twitter account through which he also shares community news and alerts.
In an interview with the Herald on Thursday, Police Chief Dan Oates said Rodriguez and the department got the account suspended quickly in January, and he called Orsetti’s behavior “outrageous.”
“Who knows what damage he could’ve done to Rodriguez’s reputation and the brand of the department had we not noticed and gotten Twitter to shut off the account,” Oates said.
According to the arrest report, the account was linked to an IP address where Orsetti was residing. Authorities obtained Orsetti’s computer through a search warrant and found emails from Twitter and photos that link Orsetti to the fake account.
Oates told the Herald the police are familiar with Orsetti from past incidents. He’s been charged with assault and robbery in the past, and he was banned from City Hall because of complaints that he harassed municipal employees. Orsetti, who has told members of the community he is homeless, has made complaints to fellow residents, the city and the media about his experiences with law enforcement and the city’s homeless outreach department.