Victims collar one of two alleged fake cops in Lynnwood

LYNNWOOD — A man pretending to be an undercover police officer picked the wrong partner in crime.

Clifford Parks, a convicted felon, was left behind by his accomplice after the men posed as undercover police officers to steal from two young people parked at a Lynnwood park earlier this month, court papers said.

Parks, 45, was charged with first-degree theft, criminal impersonation and unlawful imprisonment. He pleaded not guilty to the charges Tuesday in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Parks is being held on $65,000 bail. Prosecutors say Parks is a registered sex offender with nine felony convictions. Two of those convictions are strikes against him under the state’s persistent offender law. One more strike could mean Parks is off to prison for life.

The three current charges against him are not crimes considered strike offenses under the law.

Instead, if convicted, Parks faces about five years in prison.

Lynnwood police continue to search for his accomplice who drove off with one victim’s 2004 silver Chevy Trailblazer.

Two men, 19 and 20, had been refereeing basketball games Dec. 11 at Meadowdale High School and decided to drive to a nearby park during a 45-minute break. They told investigators they aren’t allowed to smoke on school grounds so they went to the park.

The men were smoking in the sport utility vehicle when a man approached them and identified himself as an undercover police officer, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Janice Albert wrote.

He ordered the men out of the SUV and told them to lie on the ground. Playing the part to the fullest, he told Parks to radio in the license plate number to dispatchers. Police officers often check license plate numbers to determine if a vehicle is stolen or the registered owner has an arrest warrant.

Parks pulled out a cell phone and pretended to call a dispatcher.

The victims were suspicious and asked to see the men’s police identification. The first man responded by telling Parks to call for backup. Parks continued with the ruse and pretended to summon more officers to the scene.

The first man searched the victims’ pockets and took a wallet from one. He searched the Trailblazer and then began to drive away, yelling for Parks to jump in.

The victims tried to stop the thief but he drove off. They chased Parks for a block before catching up with him. They forced him to sit down on the ground until the real police arrived.

Parks told investigators he hardly knew his accomplice. He said he didn’t know what was going on during the incident, Albert wrote. He was just trying to call his accomplice’s girlfriend on the phone, he said.

Parks on Tuesday asked Superior Court Judge Joe Wilson to lower his bail so he would be eligible to work in the jail.

Wilson denied his request, citing the felon’s long criminal history.

“I don’t feel like doing him any favors,” Wilson said.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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