- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A Utah man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to criminal charges alleging that he posed as a federal agent to try and get VIP tickets to a Comic Con event.

Jonathon M. Wall, 29, appeared in a federal courtroom to face charges of impersonating a federal officer and making a false statement at the Sept. 24 convention in Salt Lake City.

The Layton, Utah, man demanded two all-access passes by claiming he needed them to catch a wanted fugitive, prosecutors said. The pop culture event attracts large crowds of people dressed in elaborate costumes, many inspired by superheros and science fiction movie characters.

He was interrupted when a security guard who is a retired Salt Lake City police officer got suspicious of Wall’s claim to be an Air Force Office of Special Investigations agent. The officer asked Wall about his role in the agency and what fugitive he was looking for at the convention on Sept. 24, charges allege.

Air Force special agents came in to question Wall and confirmed he didn’t work for them, the charges say. He told the investigators that he’d come with the idea spontaneously, but they say he deliberately planned the ruse, charges state.

If convicted, Wall faces up to three years in prison on the first charge and up to five years on the second, along with fines that could total more than $250,000.

His lawyer Dan Drage says that while people often try to sneak into popular events, the case has been an eye-opener for his client.

“What he thought at the time wasn’t a big deal, was a big deal,” Drage said. “He has said many times, ‘I didn’t think I would get into this kind of trouble.’”

Wall appeared in court and was released afterward. U.S. Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead set a two-day trial date to begin Feb. 8.

The comic book convention attracted about 120,000 people and featured “Captain America” actor Chris Evans.

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