A Jefferson man who told people he worked for NCIS — the Naval Criminal Investigative Service popularized by a top-ranked CBS TV show of the same name — faces multiple charges from Commerce, Jefferson, Arcade, Athens-Clarke, Hall and Gwinnett counties — not to mention federal charges — following his arrest by U.S. Marshals and Commerce police in Athens May 22.
Giovanni Aston Gotti, 29, 385 Hightower Trail, Jefferson, was booked in the Jackson County Jail on charges of third-degree forgery, identity theft, impersonating a public officer or employee, possession of firearms by a convicted felon, identity fraud, fourth-degree forgery, and holds from other agencies.
According to Commerce police detective Sgt. Jason Black, the Commerce police opened an investigation on Gotti, who had changed his name from Donnie Simmons after getting out of prison for similar charges, after getting a forgery report that actually took place in Jefferson.
“He started popping up on our radar screen for forgery stuff,” Black said. “We took warrants, Jefferson took warrants, Arcade took warrants.”
Police executed a search warrant early in the process and recovered NCIS patches, an NCIS uniform, gun belt and boots, “all sorts of interesting stuff,” Black recalled. “That’s when we called in the feds and they started an investigation from there.”
Eventually, said Black, Gotti paid for a BMW X5 automobile at a Gwinnett County auto lot with a fake check. Hall County took out a probation violation warrant.
The arrest came as Commerce officers were on their way to a meeting.
“He was at an auto import shop on Winterville Road trying to sell the BMW to somebody,” Black said. “We had information he was in Athens. We were going to a meeting spot and it just so happened we saw the vehicle parked at a shop on Old Winterville Road.”
U.S. Marshals made the arrest; Gotti was booked in the Jackson County Jail on the Commerce charges.
Black said Athens-Clarke will also file charges in connection with Gotti’s attempt to sell the fraudulently obtained BMW.
Black said that at the time of his arrest, Gotti was in possession of fake NCIS credentials, including ID cards and a badge.
“All of his family thought he was working for NCIS,” Black said. “He told them he got his name changed and because his new name was not a convicted felon, he got the job.”