Department of Natural Resources
Sept. 28, 2021
A routine stop last week in Washtenaw County to assist a driver who had gone off the roadway turned up more than expected for Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Brandon Hartleben - and for the motorist, an Oakland County man who since has been arraigned on charges including false representation as a peace officer.
The driver, George Michael Galbraith, 63, of Clarkston, was arraigned Friday in 14A District Court in Ann Arbor on a four-count felony warrant and a one-year misdemeanor charge including:
The morning of Tuesday, Sept. 21, the day of Galbraith's arrest, CO Hartleben was patrolling near Spencer and 8 Mile roads in Northfield Township, Washtenaw County, around 6 a.m. when he encountered a vehicle off the roadway and about 6 feet down the embankment.
Hartleben stopped to assist and, approaching the vehicle, noted the right rear tire was flat and there was damage to that side of the vehicle, evidently from sliding off the road. The vehicle appeared to be occupied by a man who was holding a badge in a wallet out of his window and who claimed to work for the Waterford Township Police Department.
After convincing the man to give him the wallet - the badge appeared to be a fake and displayed "Crime Prevention Officer" stamped on it - Hartleben confirmed with Waterford Township that the man is neither employed by the township nor involved in any current hiring processes.
After the man exited the vehicle, Hartleben found a gun/Sam Browne style belt stuffed next to the driver's seat. The belt contained a single handcuff case and a gun holster containing a loaded Smith and Wesson M&P .40-caliber pistol. The man also wore a coat with a zip-on attachment that read "POLICE." Hartleben also discovered, in the rear of the vehicle, a cased shotgun loaded in the tube, as well as a cased Smith and Wesson .380 handgun.
"Luckily, this man was taken into custody without incident," said F/Lt. Todd Szyska, of the DNR's Law Enforcement Division, District 9, and Hartleben's supervisor. "Falsely representing yourself as a peace officer is an egregious breach of public trust, and we are glad this man is off the road."
Galbraith's next court date has not yet been scheduled. For each of the four felonies, he faces up to five years in prison and a fine of not more than $2,500, plus court costs. The misdemeanor charge of impersonating a peace officer is punishable by up to one year in prison or a fine of not more than $1,000, or both.
Anyone with information regarding this case should contact F/Lt. Szyska via email at SzyskaT@Michigan.gov.Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned law enforcement officers who protect natural resources, ensure recreational safety and protect residents by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. Due to the nature of their job, these officers often work with federal, state and local law enforcement officers to ensure public safety. Learn more at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.