NEW HANOVER COUNTY -- A district court judge found the chief of a local private security force guilty Friday. Joe Guarascio was originally charged with assault, impersonating an officer and false imprisonment. Guarascio runs the private security firm Inter-pol. He's a certified law enforcement officer, but from January 2006 to October 2006 Guarascio had his license suspended because of a firearm violation. Prosecutors say during that time, guarascio presented himself as a valid law enforcement officer, assisted in an arrest... And beat a man. SBI Det. Mark Francisco said, "He said he popped the guy on the head a couple of times with his stinger, or flashlight." The judge dropped two of the charges: impersonating an officer and false imprisonment. He found Guarascio guilty of assault. Defense attorney Thomas Hicks said, "I respect his decision, but I disagree with it and I think when a jury gets a chance to hear the case they will find the right decision." Hicks says his client is appealing the verdict. Guarascio has since had his law enforcement certification reinstated, but it could still be in jeopardy now that he's been convicted.
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