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Veterans Investigator Charged With Impersonation, Perjury, Firearms Possession

Former Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs investigator Steven Pancoast
Canadian County Jail
Former Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs investigator Steven Pancoast

Formal charges were filed Monday against a fired Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs investigator accused of impersonating a law officer, perjury and felony possession of a firearm.

41-year-old Steven Pancoast was arrested Saturday, but denied any wrongdoing as early as Wednesday to The Oklahoman.

“Don’t believe everything you hear, man,” Pancoast told The Oklahoman. “I’m saying it’s false. ... I really don’t want to be made out to be a bad guy because I’m not.” Prosecutors allege he committed perjury in Canadian County when he identified himself last year on an affidavit for a search warrant as “a CLEET certified law enforcement officer.” CLEET is the commonly used acronym for a state agency known as the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training. A CLEET representative told The Oklahoman there is no record for Pancoast there. Pancoast claimed he was given a CLEET card in 2013, according to the arrest warrant affidavit. He hand-delivered what he said was a photocopy of the card to the attorney general’s office March 11. The card turned out to be fictitious — an old security guard certification card signed by a director who left the agency in 2008, according to the arrest warrant affidavit. Pancoast told The Oklahoman, “There’s a screw-up there. I’ve signed for my stuff a hundred times when I went to my training classes so I don’t know what that deal is.”

“It is shocking to find that someone who so brazenly pretended to be a law enforcement officer was, in fact, a convicted felon producing fraudulent credentials to obtain his position,” Pruitt said in a statement.

Pruitt says Pancoast has felony convictions in New Jersey. A probable cause affidavit alleges New Jersey State Police arrested Pancoast twice in 1992 on burglary and theft charges. He received a three year sentence and was released from prison in 1996.

An Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation background check conducted in 2003 showed no criminal history in this state.

ODVA assistant director Terry Wilkerson contacted the attorney general’s office and asked them to look into Pancoast’s CLEET status and criminal history. Earlier this month agents compared fingerprints of Pancoast’s from OSBI files with records in New Jersey, and determined they were a match.

As an ODVA investigator, Pancoast worked with local, state and federal law agencies on various cases, including deaths at the state's long-term care facilities for veterans and embezzlement at Oklahoma's American Legion offices. The credibility of those investigations could now be called into question.

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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