MANCHESTER - A woman who lives on Merrimack Street said a man pretending to be an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent forced his way into her apartment, then slapped her across the face when she said she was calling police.
The incident happened Monday about 7:30 p.m. at the home of Uyen Giang, 27, of 64 Merrimack St.
The woman told police a man knocked on her door and identified himself as an INS agent. She opened it and the man pushed his way inside, closing and locking the door behind him, preventing her from leaving.
The man again identified himself as an INS agent and demanded her "papers." She asked him for identification and told him she was calling police.
As she looked for her cellphone, the man slapped her in the face. She pushed him aside and escaped out her apartment, yelling to neighbors about an intruder.
When she and neighbors went back to her apartment, the man was gone and so was her laptop computer. Officer Brian Gillotte stopped a man, identified as Ariel Mejias, 47, of 123 Pleasant St., who police said matched the intruder's description, in front of the woman's apartment building.
Police arrested him after they said they found several pieces of evidence inside the apartment that they linked to Mejias, including an inhaler, cigarette and a lighter.
He is charged with burglary, false impersonation, false imprisonment and simple assault.
Mejias was arraigned on the charges Tuesday morning in 9th Circuit Court, Manchester District Division. Because Mejias was out on bail on charges from a November 2012 incident, in which he posed as a gas station attendant, prosecutors filed a motion to revoke his bail, and a hearing was set for Wednesday morning.
In the November gas station incident on Bridge Street, Mejias is accused of approaching a man getting out of his vehicle and offering to pump the gas. Mejias asked the man for cash in advance, so he could get the pump activated, but never returned and was located later by police in a Chestnut Street building where he lived at the time.
Mejias is scheduled for trial Feb. 19 on charges from that incident. A probable cause hearing on the felony burglary and false impersonation charges was also set for Feb. 19. Trial on the new misdemeanors was set for March 14.
After reading the story on UnionLeader.com, Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Washington, D.C., issued this statement Tuesday afternoon: "ICE takes these allegations very seriously; impersonating a federal officer is a significant crime that undermines public safety and trust. Our primary concern in these cases is to arrest and criminally prosecute imposters. ICE's Office of Professional Responsibility is currently conducting an investigation into the matter. The agency will not allow criminals to capitalize on the fear of deportation to victimize immigrants."