Baldwin Park Councilman Held in Badge Case

Times Staff Writer

Investigators from the district attorney's office arrested Baldwin Park Councilman William Van Cleave Thursday morning on charges of false imprisonment and impersonating a police officer.

The case stems from an incident last July in which Van Cleave, 48, got into a dispute over money with a customer at his hardware store.

The victim, according to police, said Van Cleave flashed his City Council badge in an effort to misrepresent himself.

"The victim felt that the badge itself represented that Mr. Van Cleave was actually a police officer," said Baldwin Park Police Chief Mark Kling.

Kling said the badges given council members resemble police badges, but are meant only for identification. Impersonating an officer is a misdemeanor.

The district attorney's Public Integrity Division is handling the investigation. Prosecutors provided few details, and would not elaborate on why Van Cleave faces a false imprisonment charge, a felony.

Van Cleave, a councilman for seven years in the San Gabriel Valley city, was released from jail after posting $20,000 bail. His arraignment is set for April 3.

If found guilty, he faces a potential three-year prison term. He could not be reached for comment.

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