By Sylvia Hsieh
An upstate New York rabbi was criminally charged for pretending to be a
police officer and pulling over drivers whom he deemed to be going too slowly.
The real NYPD arrested Rabbi Alfredo Borodowski, accusing him of pulling his
Camry next to a woman’s car, honking his horn, flashing a fake badge and
screaming, “Police! Police! Pull over!”
The 24-year-old woman, who does not want to be identified by name, was so
freaked out that she called police.
“He’s a raging rabbi,” said the woman’s attorney Richard Clifford. “My client
was savvy enough at 24 years of age not to pull over for him and to call the
police with a clear and accurate description of his license plate and car, so he
was pulled over less than a mile away.”
In another case, Borodowski is accused of tailgating a driver to make him go
faster than the 40 m.p.h. speed limit, then passing him and blocking the
driver’s path, yelling, “I’m a police officer! Pull over!” while waving a badge.
A third driver made similar allegations and caught the traffic encounter with
the rabbi on videotape.
Investigators found Borodowski in possession of a badge belonging to the
The rabbi has pled not guilty.
Originally, he was charged with felony impersonation of a police officer,
which means acting as a police officer, displaying a fake badge, or pretending
that the police gave you authority to act as one of them.
But in order to be a felony, the person pretending to be a police officer
must intend to commit another felony, like robbing a bank or stealing a car.
In this case, the rabbi was accused only of pretending to be a cop apparently
out of road rage, but not with the intent of committing an additional crime.
So in court Wednesday, prosecutors replaced the original felony charge
against Borodowski with misdemeanor impersonation of a police officer, Clifford
said. The rabbi is likely to face three misdemeanor charges in the three
His defense attorney has claimed that Borodowski suffers from bipolar
Even if the rabbi has mental health issues, that is not a defense to the
crime of impersonating a police officer, said Lincy M. Jacob, a criminal defense
attorney with Tully Rinckey in Albany, N.Y.
However, it could be a way for his attorney to argue he is incompetent to
stand trial or to get a lighter sentence, she said.
Clifford, who said the claim that the rabbi is bipolar is a “carefully
constructed defense” diagnosed by a smart criminal defense attorney, said the
rabbi should be treated like any other criminal defendant.
“He’s going to be handled because he’s a prominent person. Imagine a black
man and you wouldn’t indulge that kind of defense,” Clifford said. “Our jails
are filled with people of color not given the chance to say they’re depressed or
bipolar or given the chance to negotiate a lower charge or plea.”
He said a likely scenario is the rabbi will plead guilty to a single charge
that combines all three misdemeanors and get a fine, mental health program, and