Oklahoma Veteran Affairs Investigator Charged With Impersonating Officer
ROGERS COUNTY, Oklahoma - Oklahoma's Department of Veteran's Affairs is in an embarrassing position after learning their chief investigator was not a cop at all, but instead, was a former felon.
The department hired Steven Pancoast in 2010 and said he's worked on several important cases, but now he's charged with impersonating an officer.
Veterans Affairs said Pancoast passed an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation background check when they hired him.
Pancoast was fired two weeks ago when the Attorney General's Office learned he's not CLEET certified and served time in prison in New Jersey in the 90s.
A lot of people want to know how he could've fooled so many people for so long, but the big issue is what's going to happen to the cases he worked on?
Glenna Hiseley's father, Louis Arterberry, died in the Claremore veteran's center in 2012.
"Just shocked to think the state would not have a better background check for his particular job," she said.
The AG's office charged Kenneth Adams with second degree murder for his death and another veteran's.
The families have been waiting years for Adams to go to trial; Steven Pancoast was the main investigator on the case.
"He had a badge around his neck, on a chain. He did have a gun. He was very official and professional. The only time I saw him personally was in the courtroom," Hiseley said.
Court records show Pancoast sat at the table with the prosecutors and testified more than once.
The AG said Pancoast worked on local, state and federal cases, and even worked with the Department of Homeland Security.
Pancoast was arrested in Canadian County Saturday for impersonating an officer, perjury and having a gun as a former felon.
The AG's office said it's trying to figure out what it means for the cases he investigated.
Hiseley said, "My fear is not only, will we have to start over from day one, they might possibly throw it out and that would be devastating."
Adams' attorneys said they'll most likely ask the case against him to be thrown out because this brings into question Pancoast's testimony.
They said he wasn't just the main investigator; he was the only investigator, and the one pushing so hard for criminal charges, when they believed it was only civil.
OSBI said Veterans Affairs only requested a name-based background check - which is only in Oklahoma - had Veterans Affairs requested a fingerprint check, it would've been nationwide.
In a statement, the Attorney General's Office said:
“It is shocking to find that someone who so brazenly pretended to be a law enforcement officer was, in fact, a convicted felon producing fraudulent credentials to obtain his position. Certainly, my office will prosecute these crimes to the full extent of the law. We have also begun to review every case that our office received assistance from this individual. After agents from this office began to question his credentials, the seamless interaction between federal, state, and local authorities led to him being quickly removed from the ODVA and to a charge and apprehension of this felon.
“But for the diligence of a few agents, this matter may never have been resolved. We owe our thanks to the agents of the Attorney General's Office and the FBI for their hard work and diligence in this matter.”
Pancoast has not returned our messages to get his side of the story.