Photo: Denise Latta
Impersonating the law to a customer of a local pub in Tustin has landed a Southern California woman in jail. Denise Latta of Huntington Beach was arrested on November 29th, 2018, more than two months after having forced a customer of the bar to exit the venue and undergo a manual search.
The September 13th, 2018, incident began when Latta entered the Tustin Inn bar on East First Street and approached the woman and a bartender, presenting to them a badge similar to those worn by law enforcement officers.
Latta reportedly approached the victim by name, though the victim has said that she did not know her.
Believing that Latta was somehow associated with the police, the victim yielded to Latta’s demands that she produce an identification card. Latta strangely cut the ID card into several pieces and then intimidated the victim into leaving the bar with her.
Outside, the 54-year-old Latta forced the woman to place her hands against the wall of the bar and to spread her feet. The perpetrator proceeded to manually pat down the victim, touching her breast and groin areas over clothing, and then told her that she would not arrest her, but never to return to the bar.
The Tustin Police Department’s Investigations Unit and the Special Response Team arrested Latta in Old Town Tustin on November 29th. She was carrying weapons, including knives and stunguns as well as handcuffs, fake badges and identification cards reading “agent” and “private investigator,” and clothing reading “fugitive recovery agent.”
Latta was booked at Orange County Jail for kidnapping, robbery, false imprisonment, sexual battery and impersonating a police officer.
While Latta’s LinkedIn page describes her as “fugitive recovery agent” at Elite Fugitive Recovery Services of Costa Mesa, California—a business that was incorporated in May 2018 at an address belonging to a UPS Store, Coastview Plumbing and California Dialysis Council, amongst others—Tustin Police Department investigators found no evidence of documentation to prove her being licensed either as a private detective or as a bail enforcement officer, both job titles by which she represented herself to the police.
Latta’s possession of such weapons and fake IDs have led detectives to believe that the Tustin Inn encounter might not have been an isolated incident. Tustin Police investigators are asking that any additional victims contact Detective R. Newton at (714) 573-3249.