- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 19, 2016

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A bizarre case against three people accused of promoting themselves as members of a fraternal police force that traces its roots back 3,000 years partly collapsed when the charges against one defendant were dismissed and the organization’s so-called chief suddenly died.

A website for the Masonic Fraternal Police, which claims jurisdiction in 33 states and Mexico, said the group was created by the Knights Templar in 1100 B.C.

The criminal case unraveled when David Inkk Henry, the 47-year-old “grandmaster” of the organization, died of a pulmonary embolism on Monday - hours after appearing in a Los Angeles County court, the Los Angeles Times reported (https://lat.ms/1VgAVPK).

Earlier in the day, a judge dismissed charges against Brandon Kiel, a former staffer with the California Department of Justice whom authorities said impersonated a police officer and misused his government-issued ID.

Another defendant still faces charges.

Sheriff’s officials said the trio walked into the Santa Clarita station last year - two of them wearing uniforms - to announce their organization was setting up shop in the area.

“It just raised my suspicion level,” sheriff’s Capt. Roosevelt Johnson told the newspaper at the time.

Investigators staged an undercover operation last April in which they recorded the group’s meeting with Santa Monica police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks.

Detective Amalia Hernandez testified that Kiel did much of the talking and said the group would only handle matters internal to the Masonic group. Kiel also said the state Department of Justice was well aware and supportive of the Masonic Fraternal Police Department, Hernandez said.

The three people were initially charged with misdemeanor counts of falsely representing themselves as police officers; Henry also was charged with three felony counts of perjury.

Prosecutors later accused them of perjury and conspiracy to commit perjury by procuring fee-exempt license plates from the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, https://www.latimes.com/

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