Firefighter Impersonator Suspect May Be A Repeat Offender
DENVER (CBS4) – A man suspected of impersonating a firefighter in the High Park Fire may have done it more than once.
Mike Maher, 30, may have illegally posed as a firefighter during the Lower North Fork Fire back in March.
On Wednesday the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department released pictures of items found in Maher’s apartment that show what they say Maher stole from firefighters, including a jacket, a radio, portable lifesaving shelter, and other tools. Many of the items were reported missing after being issued to someone they thought was a firefighter in the Lower North Fork Fire.
Also inside Maher’s apartment was an emergency vehicle light bar.
CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger spoke with a woman who obtained a restraining order against Maher. The woman, who asked not to be identified, says he claimed to be a firefighter several years ago. She claims she had a terrifying ordeal with Maher.
She claims Maher her sexually assaulted her, though he was not convicted. She obtained a restraining order against him that she says was ignored.
CBS4 obtained numerous records from the police agency involved that verify her story. It all happened several years ago and she says he was taking firefighting classes at the time.
“He has always portrayed himself as a fireman; had the hat and jacket in the car, stickers on the back of the truck and talked about it constantly,” the woman said. “He wants to make himself look good for other people, look honorable, seem like a trustworthy guy.”
She claimed he followed her to work and a bar.
“I thought that by moving away that would be the end of him in my life, but here I am again reliving all the things that have happened,” the woman said.
Maher pleaded guilty to a sexual assault case that involved a young girl around that same time. There were other restraining orders obtained against him at the time as well.
The following is a statement released by Maher’s attorney, Dan Recht:
“Michael Maher has always dreamed of being a fireman. He has a degree in “Fire Science Technology” from Colorado Mountain College, has been certified in many aspects of firefighting, has been trained as a firefighter, and has previously been employed by the U.S. Forest Service here in Colorado. Unfortunately, he has not been able to obtain employment as a fireman.
Late last week, Michael tried to help fight the High Park Fire without appropriate authority. He knows this was ill advised, foolish and regrettable. However, he never meant to hurt anyone, loot anything, impede the firefighting effort in any way, or do anything but naively and immaturely attempt to help fight the High Park Fire. Upon contact with law enforcement, Michael was, and continues to be, forthcoming and cooperative. Despite media reports to the contrary, Michael was not in possession of fraudulent IDs, his firearm was legally owned and possessed, and he has never been convicted of a felony.
He is embarrassed by and prepared to take responsibility for his conduct. He regrets any offense taken by any of the firefighters who he idolizes and believes are heroes.”