A San Jose man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that include impersonating a CHP officer, receiving stolen property and possessing child pornography.
Mark Ryan Polini, 27, appeared in San Luis Obispo Superior Court while out of custody on $120,000 bail.
Polini’s lawyer, Ilan Funke-Bilu, said after the arraignment that he was troubled that his client was arrested three separate times by the Atascadero Police Department.
“I’ve practiced law for a long time, and it’s unprecedented in my experience for someone to be arrested three times in the same case,” Funke-Bilu said.
“ ... I’ve never seen this kind of serial busting.”
Funke-Bilu said that one arrest would have been sufficient and then police could have formally added charges with the court without arresting Polini again.
Polini is also accused of two counts of illegally carrying a weapon, as well as grand theft.
Funke-Bilu called the police “cowboys who decided to make Mark Polini into John Dillenger.”
On July 19, police arrested Polini after an officer pulled him over as he was driving an unmarked black 2001 Ford Crown Victoria near the Atascadero Shell station at East Front Street and San Gabriel Road.
Polini was wearing black pants, a black shirt and a CHP cap, according to police.
Polini consented to a search of his car, police said, which they allege revealed a loaded pistol, handcuffs, two badges, several air-soft pistols, holsters and an expandable police baton.
Police then arrested Polini a second time after finding property they allege was stolen, including jewelry, and later booked him a third time on suspicion of having more than 2,000 images of child pornography on his laptop computer.
“We believe the community would have expected us to arrest him each time based on the level of concern that became heightened with the facts we uncovered,” said Steve Gesell, an Atascadero Police Department commander. “This is a result of solid, tenacious police work.”
Gesell said police made their decision based on the level of threat they believe Polini posed. Each time he was arrested, Polini posted bail.
Gesell said he didn’t know why Polini allegedly impersonated a CHP officer and called it “abnormal behavior, to say the least.”
“That’s the million dollar question,” Gesell said of the alleged impersonation.
Polini is scheduled to appear Sept. 16 in Judge Michael Duffy’s court for a pre-preliminary hearing.