Raleigh man sentenced to prison for impersonating Army officer to impress woman

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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Raleigh man who pretended to be an Army general and landed a helicopter at SAS to impress a woman was sentenced to six months in jail by federal authorities Tuesday.

Christian Gerald Desgroux, 58, pleaded guilty to pretending to be a United States Army Lieutenant General in June.

The original incident happened on Nov. 6, 2017, when a helicopter chartered by Desgroux landed at the SAS headquarters in Cary.

Christian Desgroux

As security officers approached, Desgroux stepped out wearing a "full military battle dress uniform" and displaying three stars that implied a rank of lieutenant general, Homeland Security Special Agent Tony Bell testified.

"He saluted the security officers, and they actually saluted him back," Bell said.

RELATED: Raleigh man landed helicopter at SAS to impress woman, Feds say

A suspicious security supervisor confronted Desgroux, who told him he was there to pick up a female employee to take her to Fort Bragg for a classified briefing that had been authorized by President Donald Trump.

But none of it was true: Desgroux later admitted to federal agents that he'd never served in the U.S. military.

The woman, a longtime acquaintance of Desgroux, expected him to arrive in a car for an outing they'd planned. Instead, they went on a 30-minute helicopter ride around Raleigh, Bell said.

"She had no idea that he was flying a helicopter to pick her up," Bell said.

Bell testified Desgroux wanted to pursue a romantic relationship with the married woman.

"She didn't know what to make of it," Bell told the judge. "She just went along with it."

Desgroux, a native of Chile, has lived in the Raleigh area for two decades and recently became a U.S. citizen, Bell said. He works out of his home as a car mechanic.

The judge who sentenced Desgroux to six months in jail also imposed a year of supervised release. Desgroux will be credited for more than five months in jail since he was arrested last year.

During the sentencing, U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle said to Desgroux, "So it was like Halloween every day of the week?"

The Associated Press contributed to this report.