Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney File photo: Alek Lewis

A Wading River resident and former volunteer firefighter was arrested and indicted Wednesday for allegedly impersonating an NYPD officer, wearing fraudulent gear and forging documents identifying her as such. 

Mary Ortega, 46, allegedly “responded to shifts and a fire call wearing an NYPD uniform despite the fact that she is not a police officer, and then presented fraudulent documents during an investigation into the allegations,” according to a press release by Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney.

Ortega is charged with three counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, a Class D felony, three counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a Class E felony, three counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a Class E felony, and Criminal Impersonation in the Second Degree, a Class A misdemeanor.

Ortega was suspended by the fire department in May 2022 “pending further investigation into her alleged employment by the NYPD,” according to the press release. Ortega allegedly showed the chief of the fire department a forged NYPD identification card, and two forged letters, purportedly written and signed by a state senator and the Kings County district attorney, referring to Ortega as a sworn member of the NYPD and discussing a “fictitious assignment with an undercover gang and drug unit within the NYPD,” according to the press release.

Ortega admitted that she was never employed at the NYPD and never has held a volunteer position, and that she purchased fraudulent NYPD equipment and the identification online, according to the press release. She was arrested by investigators Wednesday and arraigned, where she pled not guilty and was released on her own recognizance. Her next court date is March 9, 2023.

“This defendant is alleged to have violated the trust of the Wading River community by falsely holding herself out to be a New York City Police Officer, and then compounding that misconduct by allegedly filing forged letters from two high-ranking public officials to conceal her original crime,” Tierney said. “My office supports the brave men and women in law enforcement, and part of that support is holding accountable those who would attempt to wrongfully benefit from their honor.”

Ortega’s attorney, Haley Baldwin, said in a statement to RiverheadLOCAL that Ortega is “cooperating with law enforcement. We believe there are extenuating circumstances in this case that we intend to bring to the District Attorney’s attention with an eye towards an equitable resolution. We look forward to working with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.”

Editor’s note: A criminal charge is an accusation. A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

Editor’s note: This article was updated after initial publication to include a statement from Ortega’s attorney.

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: alek@riverheadlocal.com