ERIE — A Smethport man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly impersonating a U.S. Marshal at an accident scene in January.

Ernest Lathrop Sr., 59, 856 Wolf Run Road, was charged with false impersonation of an officer or employee of the United States, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen Kaufman.

According to the indictment, on Jan. 31, Lathrop pretended to be a marshal at the scene of a traffic accident by activating emergency lights on his vehicle and telling people there that he was a marshal.

The law provides for a maximum sentence of 3 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both. The actual sentence imposed would be based on the seriousness of the incident and a prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian Trabold is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government. The U.S. Marshal’s service and the FBI conducted the investigation leading to the indictment.

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