Denise Latta is a 54-year-old California woman facing multiple charges for allegedly pretending to be a police officer. Law enforcement officials said she forced an unsuspecting woman outside of a bar in Tustin, California back in September.
Latta allegedly patted the woman down, including touching her breast and groin area. Police arrested Latta on November 29, 2018. They are asking other potential victims to come forward, after finding evidence that suggested Latta may have performed the alleged charade more than once.
The city of Tustin is located in Orange County in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Denise Christin Latta Was Accused of Groping a Woman & Pretending the Victim Was Facing Legal Trouble
The alleged incident occurred September 13, 2018, at the Tustin Inn. The Tustin Police Department shared on social media that Denise Latta was accused of approaching a woman at the bar while holding some sort of badge. She reportedly did not verbally identify herself as a law enforcement officer, but the victim and the bartender assumed that she was based on her demeanor and badge.
Latta allegedly asked the victim to show her an identification card. Latta proceeded to destroy the woman’s ID by cutting it to pieces.
Tustin Police said Latta then forced the victim to move outside the bar. She allegedly made the woman spread her feet and put her hands on the wall so that Latta could pat her down. Police said Latta groped the woman’s groin and breasts in the process. Once the pat-down was complete, Latta told the woman to never come back to the Tustin Inn and that she was not under arrest.
2. Police: Latta Claimed to be a Law Enforcement Officer When Investigators Showed Up to Arrest Her
The Tustin Police Department did not share exactly how the investigation played out. But several weeks after the incident at the bar, on November 29, 2018, officers approached Latta at a location in Old Town Tustin.
Investigators said that Latta attempted to keep up the facade even when confronted by actual law enforcement. Police said she claimed to be a private detective and a bail officer. But she could not prove the claim due to lack of proper documentation.
Latta was arrested and taken to the Orange County Jail. Bond was set at $100,000. Latta paid it and was released during the evening of December 1. The case is being handled in Orange County Superior Court.
3. Denise Latta Faces Multiple Charges Including Kidnapping & Sexual Battery
Denise Latta could face several years in prison if convicted on the multiple charged lodged against her. Tustin Police say she faces the following charges:
• False imprisonment
• Sexual battery
• Impersonating a police officer
Under California law, a misdemeanor sexual battery charge can result in six months to one year behind bars. If it’s classified as a felony, the prison sentence could be as high as four years.
4. Police: Denise Latta May Have Impersonated a Police Officer on Multiple Occassions
The Tustin Police Department was investigating whether Denise Latta preyed on other unsuspecting victims. During the arrest, investigators recovered multiple items that suggested the incident as the Tustin Inn was not isolated.
Police shared that Latta had multiple fake badges that could be used to impersonate an officer. She also had identification cards with the title of “agent” on them, as well as articles of clothing with the words “Fugitive Recovery Agent” printed on them. Lieutenant Bob Wright shared with the Los Angeles Times that officers also recovered stun guns and handcuffs.
Tustin Police are asking anyone who may have been targeted to contact Detective R. Newton at (714) 573-3249.
5. Denise Latta Works as a Makeup Artist, According to Her Facebook Account
Denise Christin Latta was born March 23, 1964. She lists Summerville, South Carolina, as her hometown on her Facebook page. She currently lives in Huntington Beach, California.
She writes on her Facebook page that she has an associate’s degree in marketing from Trident Technical College. Latta reportedly works as a makeup artist. On her Linkedin profile, she also lists herself as the CEO of a company called Jeweled By Design.