Mark W. Rizzo Is Not an FBI Agent

Making its rounds through the various law enforcement training mailing lists I read, we get this odd story. One would have to be pretty crazy to impersonate an FBI agent at a conference, but Mark W. Rizzo tried it. Amazingly he signed up to teach eight different courses at the 2004 Seventh International Gang Specialist Training Conference in Chicago, IL. The good news is that they already took his name off the roster.

Freedom Flyer Ministries still lists Rizzo as their CEO. However, they don't claim he is an FBI agent. Rizzo's last posting to the web site is from 2003.

Other security-related organizations have picked up this story.

Update: This article gives Rizzo points to a laundry list of qualifications which turn out not to be real:

"... field representative for the American Jail Association... Board Member of the International Association of Ethics Trainers... served as a Deputy Sheriff in Pennsylvania... Administrative Aide for the Cook County Sheriff in Chicago... teaches Criminal Justice and Behavioral Science as an adjunct professor at several colleges, various police training institutions, and the National F.B.I. Academy... B.A. in Theology, M.S. in Criminal Justice, and Juris doctorate... certified trainer with the American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers."

That list can be refound here even though it was deleted from the original website thanks to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.

What we don't know is what really happened at the conference other than a visit by undercover investigators:

Prosecutors said Rizzo represented himself as an instructor at the FBI's Training Academy in Quantico, Va., and as a member of the FBI's National Academy. FBI officials say Rizzo has never worked for the FBI nor has he attended the academy.
He was scheduled to teach eight courses at the conference from Wednesday through Friday. Police officers from all over the world attend the conference for training and expert seminars on gangs.
When two undercover agents dressed up as husband and wife to meet Rizzo at the convention this week, he told the male agent that he "dresses more like the FBI than I do." Rizzo reportedly made reference to a firearm and badge that he left in his hotel room and said he worked for the FBI in the Behavioral Science Unit. After the FBI agents identified themselves, they said, he told them: "I lied, I don't work for the FBI."
Rizzo later told U.S. Magistrate Judge Morton Denlow that he didn't have any law enforcement credentials, "valid or invalid," but he was ordered to turn in all such identification.

I'm not willing to believe that Rizzo is a good sort but still he wasn't really trying to bust his way into the conference to cause problems. Rizzo just seems to be a motivated person trying to push the importance of chaplains to police organizations. He may have a point. He might not. His message will now be obscured by this arrest.

Josh Poulson

Posted Monday, Aug 16 2004 05:12 PM

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There are 2 comments on this entry.

I have met Mr. Rizzo on a couple of occasions. It is unfortunate that he used the same false resume listed above to seek and receive money from churches.

Thanks for posting this information. I hope other churches receive the full disclosure.


Posted Tuesday, Mar 14 2006 02:54 PM

I have attended two youth camps in Washington State where Mark Rizzo was the main speaker, once as a parent and once as a Youth Leader. I can tell you that despite his lack of candor, God used him in a big way at both events. He made a huge impact on many young people in a positive way. It goes to show that God's Word works even when spoken by a liar. It was heart-breaking to learn that his law enforcement credentials were false. I hope that in the future perhaps he can be used again, without padding his resume or his story material.

Joseph Baker

Posted Friday, Feb 23 2007 11:16 PM

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