York County deputies seek woman accused of falsely claiming to be Secret Service, FBI agent

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comAugust 2, 2013 

The York County Sheriff's Office posted this wanted bulletin on Facebook.

— A woman accused last week of confiscating guest IDs at a Fort Mill hotel and claiming to work with the Secret Service later called the same hotel’s manager five times and claimed to be an FBI agent, police say.

Now, the Charlotte woman’s face is featured on social media, and she’s been added to the list of accused criminals wanted by the York County Sheriff’s Office.

On July 25, deputies responded to the Clarion Hotel on Foothills Way near Carowinds when the hotel manager reported that Carma Leilani Ariel, 45, confiscated the IDs of several guests, although she had been asked not to return to the hotel, according to a York County Sheriff’s report.

A new employee who booked Ariel into an eighth-floor room that day was unaware that Ariel was not welcome at the hotel because of previous, similar issues, police said.

“They have the right to tell (unwanted guests) not to come back,” said Trent Faris, Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

“When they come back, that’s when they call us.”

The hotel manager told police she didn’t believe Ariel’s assertion that she was a federal agent, the report states, and asked authorities to remove her from the premises.

Deputies went to Ariel’s room, where she told them she was a Secret Service agent with the federal Department of Justice, the report states.

The Secret Service is a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It protects national and foreign leaders and investigates financial crimes.

The federal Department of Justice is the nation’s chief investigative, public safety and law enforcement agency.

Ariel told deputies her supervisor was “General Abernathy,” but she could not give them his contact information.

She showed deputies an ID card, but “the quality was questionable at best,” the report states.

The Department of Justice seal was “blurred as if printed on a low-quality printer,” and the woman had no other form of ID, telling police that she was not required to carry a driver’s license.

She did have a car, police said, where she kept several black uniforms with no identification on them except the word “Agent” printed above the front left pocket, the report states.

Ariel told police she was unable to discuss why she was in the area, and that she was never issued a badge.

She became upset that the manager called police and told deputies that her cover was blown.

Ariel packed her bags, was placed on a trespass notice and left the hotel on foot, Faris said.

It’s unclear what happened to her car.

Ariel, who wore a black windbreaker with the word “Agent” emblazoned on the front, was not charged that day with impersonating a law enforcement officer because the deputy responding could neither confirm nor deny her employment with the government, Faris said.

Deputies have since learned that she is not a federal government employee, he said, adding that Ariel returned the IDs she took from guests after the deputy told her to leave the property.

Faris’ suggestion: “Don’t believe everybody that has a FBI shirt on, because you can get that at any kind of store, or at the beach.”

On July 26, the hotel’s manager reported to police that Ariel called her five times, requesting information and claiming to be an FBI agent, according to another police report.

The calls were placed from a Washington, D.C., number, which deputies think may be fake.

She hasn’t been seen or heard from in York County since then.

Not thought dangerous

Authorities this week entered Ariel’s photo and information into the Rock Hill York County Connect website, a tracking database shared between area hotels that allows managers and employees to report crimes, suspicious activity and suspicious people.

The Sheriff’s Office says Ariel is wanted on charges of impersonating a law enforcement officer, trespassing and giving false information.

They entered Ariel as “Shevalo Materique Laney,” her name until 2007, when she had it legally changed to Carma Ariel, according to North Carolina public records.

Criminal records show that Ariel, as Laney, was found guilty of trespassing in 1997 and then again in 1998. She was sentenced to 18 months of probation and forbidden from going near a Walmart in Mecklenburg County, N.C.

In 2002, she was found guilty of resisting a public officer and sentenced to probation.

A year later, a judge entered a prayer for judgment on Laney for three counts of cyber-stalking. Prayer for judgment allows defendants to plead guilty and have the charges dismissed and expunged from their criminal records as they long as they meet certain conditions.

Managers at other hotels told police that Ariel recently frequented their businesses, Faris said.

She told those managers she was an FBI, Secret Service or U.S. Department of Justice agent and sometimes carried an empty holster on her side.

Police do not consider her dangerous or violent, Faris said, but are warning anyone who spots her to not start a conversation.

If she confronts anyone and claims to be a law enforcement officer, “they have the right” to ask to see her credentials, Faris said.

“Don’t give her any identification. Don’t give her anything.”

Jonathan McFadden 803-329-4082

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