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Impersonator who took physical for cop candidate charged

Franky Bazile is nearly 90 pounds lighter than his friend and is now paying a heavy price for helping his buddy by pretending to be him at an agility test for prospective Buffalo police officer candidates.

The muscular, 6-foot-tall, 173-pound Bazile has admitted to authorities that he took a police physical last month for Justin Payne, who is also 6-feet, but weighs 260 pounds. Payne, who aspired to become a police officer, had feared he would not pass the test because he was out of shape, police officials said.

Bazile surrendered this past weekend and is now behind bars at the Erie County Holding Center.

And like Payne, 24, who was arrested a few weeks ago, Bazile, 23, is charged with second-degree criminal impersonation, a misdemeanor. A Niagara Falls resident, Bazile also was wanted on outstanding arrest warrants involving larcenies, police said.

"They went to high school together in Buffalo and Bazile basically said he was trying to do his friend a favor. Bazile said Payne offered to take care of him, but Bazile claims he was never paid," Lt. Jeff Rinaldo said Monday.

When Bazile pretended to be Payne at the physical in early September, police officials administering the test were impressed at how he breezed through the push-ups, sit-ups and one-and-a-half- mile run.

But, an undisclosed security measure was in place that later revealed the impersonation, Rinaldo said. And to make matters even more revealing, Bazile mistakenly signed his own name in one of the signature boxes in paperwork handed out at the test.

"He knew we were on to him, that detectives were out looking for him, and so he decided to turn himself in Saturday night at the city cell block," Rinaldo said

Payne was arrested after he received a call from the police department directing him to report to the Erie County Medical Center for additional testing to become an officer. When he arrived there, he was charged and taken to the holding center. He was later released on a $10,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in Buffalo City Court on Nov. 7 for further proceedings.

Bazile, meanwhile, remains incarcerated, unable to post $5,000 bail. His next appearance in City Court is set for Thursday.

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