Michael Maher, fake firefighter: Looking for skanks, blasting Journey

In June, we shared the story of alleged fake firefighter Michael Maher, who managed to pose with Governor John Hickenlooper amid the ultra-destructive High Park Fire; see photos below. Now, the Larimer County Sheriff's Office has released a huge incident report on the case, containing lots of oddball details -- including Maher's interest in finding skanks and blasting Journey. Keep reading to learn more.

The report, which was tweeted by 9News' Jeremy Jojola, notes that on June 17, an officer was directed to stop a Toyota Tacoma pickup whose driver was thought to have fraudulent fire credentials. Before long, the officer found the truck at a grocery store in Laporte. It was loaded with U.S. Forest Service gear.

Shortly thereafter, Maher, who'd been ID'd as the driver, was spotted at a bar. In speaking with the officer, he seemed nervous, according to the narrative -- maybe because he was a registered sex offender, albeit one on probation. He tried to explain that "this is a DHS matter," a reference the officer interpreted as pointing to the Department of Homeland Security. But this excuse didn't hold up for long. He was subsequently arrested on suspicion of impersonating a public servant, obstructing a fireman, theft between $1,000 and $20,000 and attempting to influence a public servant.

That much we knew -- but the witness reports also included in the document give a much better sense of Maher's alleged impersonation, and how much he appears to have enjoyed it. One couple working as firefighters say he introduced himself to them as a "Federal Sawyer." They were supposed to fight active hot spots in the blaze and disregard spots that were smoldering in areas that had already been burned, but as they traveled together, Maher ordered them to attack the smouldering areas despite their instructions, lecturing them on "protocol" the whole time.

Of course, his personal protocol appears to have been somewhat different: At one point, he asked them were he could find some "skanks" and cranked the radio (and loudly sang along) when a Journey song came on, despite the fact that his vocalizing made it impossible to hear official communications on the vehicle's command radio.

There's much more info like this contained in the sixty-page incident report. Check it out here, followed by photos of gear Maher allegedly swiped from an earlier blaze, March's Lower North Fork fire, a pic of him in firefighting gear from his Facebook page, his mug shot and more.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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