The man first showed up at the woman’s home in the 8300 block of Palm late Thursday evening, claiming that he was with the SPCA and saying that he was going to remove her cats from her home unless she paid $40 for a certificate allowing her to keep them, said Lt. Mike Montalbano, interim commander of the NOPD Second District. The woman paid him the money, and he left and then returned with a tall woman with a nose ring and a diamond tattoo on her face, who the man said would train the woman’s cats to remain in the backyard, Montalbano said.
The supposed cat trainer took the woman to the backyard while the fake SPCA officer stayed inside, and when they walked back inside, one of the woman’s cats drew near him and he yelled, “Get that cat away from me! I don’t like cats!” The victim later told police that statement struck her as odd from a purported SPCA employee, Montalbano said.
The man asked for her cell phone so he could put his number into it so he could bring her certificate once it had been printed, and the pair left, police said. The victim then realized that her phone had ever been returned, and and that the remaining cash in her wallet was gone, Montalbano said.
On Friday morning, about 8 a.m, the man returned and began knocking on the door, but the victim immediately called police. On the way to the house, officers Jerry Devorak and Paul Dimitri saw a man walking on Palm wearing the yellow shirt and glasses that the victim described, picked him up and took him back to the woman’s house where she identified him.
Dereck Allen, 45, was arrested on charges of extortion, two counts of theft and impersonating a peace officer, because SPCA officers have some authority to enforce animal laws, Montalbano said. Allen also had outstanding warrants from Greta, Westwego, and from NOPD, and was on probation from Georgia for a false-impersonation conviction, police said.