Man who impersonated deputy on Tinder avoids more jail time, gets probation
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Earlier this year, Rico Dukes pleaded guilty to impersonating an officer and carrying a gun on school grounds. He was in court Friday afternoon for his sentencing hearing.
The state was asking that Dukes serve the maximum sentence of 2 1/2 years.
“This isn’t someone who just decided to impersonate an officer for one day,” said India Trummer, state prosecutor. “He took many, many steps to really become an officer, portray this image of a peace officer, and use it to his advantage.”
Dukes was only caught after matching with a Bernalillo County employee on Tinder, who discovered Dukes was not actually a deputy. He was arrested in April.
“It’s about impersonating an officer and using that image to deceive, prey on women – to take the trustworthiness of an officer to break the rules, to bring a gun into a school,” Trummer said.
Dukes has been in jail since his arrest more than seven months ago. His attorney argued for release.
“He was playing the role of good cop and doing it pretty well by all accounts, and, your Honor, this really is his only chance in life to prove he’s learned from his misconduct,” said Sam Ashman, his defense.
Judge Bruce Fox agreed to a deferred sentence of 2 1/2 years of supervised probation.
“To put it bluntly, he was dressing up as a police officer to try to pick up women,” Judge Fox said.
The judge acknowledged the danger, saying Dukes’ probation would come with strict conditions.
“The risk is somebody who is in an emergency might think, try to ask for help from someone like Mr. Dukes, and he’s carrying a firearm, someone may disarm him,” Judge Fox said.
Dukes will get credit for the time he’s served. Some of the conditions of his probation include electronic GPS monitoring for a year upon release. He also can’t have any clothing, patches, or badges that indicate a position of authority.
A probation officer will also be monitoring his social media, including his dating accounts.