MAMARONECK, N.Y. (AP) — In the space of about 19 hours ending Thursday, a rabbi from the New York suburbs was arrested twice and pleaded not guilty once on three separate charges of impersonating a police officer.
In each case, Rabbi Alfredo Borodowski was on the roads of New York's suburbs when other motorists angered him by driving too slowly or cutting him off, police say. So he allegedly flashed a phony badge and tried to get them to pull over.
The rabbi's unusual case has made headlines in the car-centric suburbs north of New York City and gained momentum after his first arrest, when others came forward to tell authorities he tried to stop them while driving.
The latest arrest stemmed from an encounter in Yonkers in April when "what appeared to be minor road rage escalated," state police Investigator Joseph Becerra said Thursday.
He said Borodowski angrily waved a badge at a driver who cut him off on Interstate 87.
"Words were exchanged," Becerra said. The other driver and his passenger "felt they were intimidated by this individual and he was purporting to be a police officer."
The passenger videotaped some of the encounter, he said. The footage is not being released.
Borodowski surrendered Thursday at a state police barracks in Hawthorne and was charged with the misdemeanor form of criminal impersonation. He is due in court July 29.
The rabbi's lawyer, Andrew Rubin, said Borodowski suffers from bipolar disorder.
Thursday's arrest came just a few hours after Borodowski pleaded not guilty in Mamaroneck Village Court to the same charge, stemming from a June incident in which Borodowski is accused of pulling his Camry alongside a woman's car, flashing a badge and shouting "Police! Police! Pull over!"
Police said he told them, "That girl was driving too slow, and I hate when people do this." He denied posing as a police officer.
Prosecutor Diana Hedayati agreed to reduce the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor. The revision means the rabbi is much less likely to be jailed if he's found guilty.
The Westchester district attorney's office said the charge was reduced from felony status because the rabbi's behavior did not include intent to commit another crime while impersonating an officer.
Judge Daniel Gallagher ordered a psychiatric evaluation and adjourned the case to Sept. 12.
Borodowski did not speak during the proceeding and refused to answer questions outside the courthouse. Richard Clifford, a lawyer representing the woman who reported him, said he was not disappointed that the charge was reduced.
"Putting everyone in jail is not a solution," he said.
On Wednesday, Borodowski was arrested in White Plains. A driver there complained the rabbi had confronted him in a rage in May, claiming to be an officer and displaying a badge. The driver said it appeared Borodowski wanted him to drive faster.
Borodowski has been fired from a position at prestigious Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan. He is still listed as the leader of a congregation in Larchmont. The Journal News reported Thursday that the synagogue's president wrote a letter to the congregation saying members should help the rabbi "recover from his illness and ... welcome him back as our spiritual leader at the appropriate time."