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Police: Man’s fake IDs may be part of con

POSTED: June 4, 2008 5:02 a.m.
For The Times/

Ronald Lee Elrod, 52, is charged with first- and second-degree forgery.

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At best, Ronald Lee Elrod has an overactive imagination; at worst, he’s a con artist, authorities believe.

Hall County Sheriff’s officials are investigating whether Elrod, an unemployed Flowery Branch man, may have been posing as a firefighter, law enforcement officer or numerous other guises in an effort to solicit donations or commit thefts.

Elrod, 52, was found in possession of numerous identification cards and certificates that falsely identified him as a private investigator, bail recovery agent, firefighter, investigator, lawyer, minister, flight instructor, retired Navy commander and Vietnam veteran, Hall County Sheriff’s Sgt. Kiley Sargent said.

The forged documents were found Wednesday during a search of Elrod’s home on Forest Knoll Drive, Sargent said.

Deputies first were contacted in connection with the case when a person reported that Elrod, a convicted felon, was suspected of possessing a firearm in violation of the terms of his sentence, Sargent said.

A deputy was granted permission to search Elrod’s home and found an air pistol that Elrod was not prohibited from owning, Sargent said. During the search, the deputy found several suspicious forms of identification, Sargent said. Elrod identified himself to the deputy as a private investigator, a claim that later was found to be false, Sargent said.

Investigators secured a search warrant the same day and seized several items, including a laminating machine and plastic sleeves, as well as business cards, certificates, patches and numerous forms of false identification, Sargent said.

Elrod is charged with first- and second-degree forgery.

Authorities said Elrod had certificates that purported him to be a member of a Navy SEAL underwater demolition team and graduate of the National FBI Academy, as well as a standing member of the Virginia Bar Association.

"He’s aiming high," Sargent said.

Sargent added that every form of identification found, including a clergy card and San Diego County Sheriff’s Office ID, was confirmed by investigators as being invalid.

Elrod also had his Jeep Cherokee outfitted with emergency lights and a tag that identified him as a volunteer firefighter, which he is not, Sargent said.

Elrod served six years in prison on felony theft by deception, fraud, and altered identification charges out of Hall and Madison counties and was released in September 2006, according to state Department of Corrections records. He has a criminal history dating back to 1978, when he was convicted in Hall County of "cheating and swindling," corrections records show.

Sargent said sheriff’s investigators are trying to determine if Elrod ever approached anyone for donations while posing as an authority figure.

"I hope people will understand our concern when someone with a history of that nature has all these different forms of identification," Sargent said. "If someone’s been taken advantage of or been in contact with him, we need to be aware of it. Right now we don’t have any direct evidence he’s contacted anyone. This is more of a precaution."

Elrod may have given out business cards with a state of Georgia seal that identified him as Investigator Michael Taylor with the state "Vehicle Fraud Unit," Sargent said.

Anyone who may have encountered Elrod is asked to call sheriff’s investigators at 770-531-6879.


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