Man sentenced for impersonating officer
A Gardnerville man appeared before Justice of the Peace Jim EnEarl, East Fork Justice Court Wednesday to plead guilty to one count of acting without lawful authority and one count of reckless driving.
For acting without lawful authority, Robert Michael Stulac, 35, was fined $600 and sentenced to six months in jail, suspended for one year provided that he violate no laws, have no contact with the victim in the case, not enforce any traffic laws in his Pleasantview neighborhood, and obtain a mental health evaluation.
For reckless driving, Stulac was sentenced to two days in the county jail and a $600 fine.
“Mr. Stulac, I want you to go to jail for two days,” said EnEarl in response to Stulac’s attorney’s pleas that his client do no active jail time. “I want you to find out what it’s like to spend a night in jail.”
Stulac was arrested for oppression under the color of office, a gross misdemeanor, and reckless driving after he stopped a woman for allegedly speeding on his street. Stulac, who was driving the opposite way down a Pleasantview street, pulled his vehicle directly in front of the victim’s vehicle causing her to brake and veer off of the roadway to avoid a head-on collision.
He then told the victim he was with Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and warned she’d better slow down, or else.
“How did you arrive though the thought process that you had the authority to stop people after driving recklessly for simple speeding?” asked EnEarl during Stulac’s Wednesday court appearance.
Stulac told EnEarl that two days before his crimes, he had met with DCSO deputies who explained to him the correct way for a civilian to stop other civilians. He said the deputy told him to hold his arm out of the driver’s side window.
“I honestly felt like I went through the correct procedure,” said Stulac.
“You followed her around for a great deal of time recklessly,” said EnEarl.
“I didn’t do that, I just followed her,” said Stulac. “She lied.”
“A great many people in this community carry guns,” EnEarl said. “What if they shot you under those circumstances?”
“I just want to thank (Sgt.) Lance (Modispacher) for bringing me in. I told my neighbors not to do what I did,” Stulac said.
In arguing for probation only, Ron Cauley, Stulac’s attorney said, “Vigilantism is not a good idea. I understand the concerns of the court but this is not an uncommon thing.
“He’s an upstanding citizen with no record, a good guy. He’s got an infant daughter who was almost hit (by a speeding vehicle), that doesn’t justify it, but he did try to handle it through the sheriff’s office who did not diminish the problem. Clearly he overreacted.
“Two days in jail is excessive and out of line,” Cauley said.
He referred to ex-Indian Hills General Improvement District manager Dave Campbell who was sentenced to probation plus fines and restitution for stealing from the GID. Cauley said he didn’t understand how Campbell, who stole thousands of dollars, could get probation, while his client had jail time recommended by the DA’s office.
Cauley asked for a greater fine, saying the state got Stulac’s attention when they arrested him.
“This had a profound affect on him,” said Cauley, also mentioning newspaper articles on his client which, he said, damaged Stulac’s reputation. “He’s been whipped up one side and down the other.”
“I do differentiate between Campbell and Stulac,” said EnEarl. “This could have ended violently or tragically.”
EnEarl then sentenced Stulac.
“Mr. Stulac, let’s assume I won’t see you under these circumstances anymore,” said EnEarl.
“I guarantee you, you won’t,” said Stulac, who must report to the Douglas County Jail in Minden on June 6.