A Utah man busted for pretending he was an Air Force fugitive-hunter to get into a fantasy convention told NBC News he’s just a Star Wars fan who “made a stupid mistake.”
Jonathon Wall, 29, was indicted Wednesday on charges of impersonating a federal officer and making a false statement to a federal agent during the three-day confab in Salt Lake City, which drew 120,000 devotees of comics, science-fiction and anime.
Wall, who works for the Air Force as a refrigerator mechanic, said a friend gave him a VIP pass worth $250 that included lots of perks, but he wanted access to the green room, where the celebrities who make appearances hang out.
“I had this bright idea to tell them I was with the [Air Force Office of Special Investigations] and that we were looking for a certain person,” Wall said in a telephone interview.
Before Wall was able to get into the VIP area, though, a retired Salt Lake City police officer working security got suspicious and started questioning him. Then real Air Force OSI agents were brought in to continue the interrogation.
The indictment alleges that Wall claimed his lie was spontaneous when he had actually pre-planned the ruse, though he insisted to NBC News that he only came up with it after he arrived at the convention.
Wall offered a number of excuses for his actions. He first said that he was depressed after a May motorcycle accident and upset about problems at his job at Hill Air Force Base.
He then said he did it for his brother, who he said was also at the convention, is a Star Wars fan and is disabled by a condition called ankylosing spondylitis. Later, Wall said that he was also upset after being diagnosed with the condition himself.
Wall said he wants people to know he didn’t mean any harm.
“I’m just a normal guy who made a stupid mistake,” he said.
Wall was not taken into custody after the indictment and will be issued a summons for a court date. He said he does not have an attorney.
Prosecutors said that if he is convicted, he could face up to five years in prison.