Woman Accused of Impersonating Police Officer in Orange County

Michelle Briana Hughes, 30, of Huntington Beach, pictured in a photo released by the Costa Mesa Police Department following her arrest on Nov. 2, 2019.

Michelle Briana Hughes, 30, of Huntington Beach, pictured in a photo released by the Costa Mesa Police Department following her arrest on Nov. 2, 2019.

Police in Costa Mesa are looking for anyone who may have had a suspicious encounter with a woman they arrested last week on suspicion of impersonating a police officer, officials said Thursday.

Michelle Brianna Hughes, 30, of Huntington Beach was taken into custody late on Nov. 1, the Costa Mesa Police Department said in a written statement.

Gang unit officers pulled over a white, four-door 2016 Chevrolet Impala equipped with a police-style light bar and “California exempt” license plates in the area of Harbor Boulevard and Merrimac Way, officials said.

Police in Costa Mesa seized these items while arresting a woman they say was impersonating a police officer on Nov. 1, 2019. (Credit: Costa Mesa Police Department)

Police in Costa Mesa seized these items while arresting a woman they say was impersonating a police officer on Nov. 1, 2019. (Credit: Costa Mesa Police Department)

The driver, later identified as Hughes, “was wearing a tactical vest with a ‘POLICE’ patch on the front of the vest,” according to the statement. She also wore a duty belt complete with handcuffs, a fake law enforcement badge, a Taser and a loaded, unregistered handgun fitted with a high-capacity magazine.

“Hughes identified herself to the arresting officers as a deputy for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department,” the statement said. “Hughes is not a law enforcement officer and was in possession of other police uniforms from other law enforcement agencies as well as other government exempt license plates.”

A car being driven by a woman accused of impersonating a police officer following her arrest in Costa Mesa on Nov. 1, 2019. (Credit: Costa Mesa Police Department)

A car being driven by a woman accused of impersonating a police officer following her arrest in Costa Mesa on Nov. 1, 2019. (Credit: Costa Mesa Police Department)

Hughes was booked on suspicion of impersonating a police officer, carrying a loaded and unregistered firearm an possession of a high-capacity magazine, officials said.

She was released from custody pending her initial court appearance the following day after posting bond, Orange County Superior Court records show.

It was not clear why Hughes, whose occupation was listed in booking records as “armed guard,” was in possession of all the police-style equipment.

“CMPD is seeking the public’s help in identifying victims who have possibly had contact with Hughes while falsely impersonating a police officer,” the statement said.

Michelle Briana Hughes, 30, of Huntington Beach, pictured in a photo released by the Costa Mesa Police Department following her arrest on Nov. 2, 2019.

Michelle Briana Hughes, 30, of Huntington Beach, pictured in a photo released by the Costa Mesa Police Department following her arrest on Nov. 2, 2019.

Anyone with information was urged to contact Costa Mesa police detective J. Smith at 714-754-5097, or via email at jsmith@costamedaca.gov.

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