NJ man’s elaborate story of armed robbery never really happened, police say
State Police say a Bass River man with a very vivid imagination chose to use his talents earlier this week, just "not in a good way."
Michael Cohen, 65, gave authorities an elaborate report detailing how he was robbed at gunpoint by a man who may or may not have had a British accent.
Police used a sketch artist to come up with a rendering of Cohen's suspect — which many people online thought bore a striking resemblance to Shaquille O’Neal.
Turns out, the robbery never really happened, police said.
"Today, we ponder the many mysteries of life, such as the pyramids of Egypt, the Sphinx, Stonehenge, the Nazca Lines of Peru, the fall of the Mayan Empire, and last but certainly not least, the inexplicable reasons why Michael Cohen, 65, of Bass River, N.J., falsely reported to police that he was robbed at gunpoint on Monday, May 2," State Police mused on Facebook Wednesday.
Police said Cohen claimed the robbery took place at about 11:25 a.m. on Route 9 and Ash Road in Bass River Township. Authorities recorded Cohen's account of the incident, but as they began to dig deeper in an attempt to "thoroughly investigate" the alleged crime, they realized that the victim "had a remarkable ability to recall minor details while he was staring down the barrel of a gun."
That's when they called upon the NJ State Police Composite Artist Unit.
"And so we got this amazing drawling. But remember folks, we also have some outstanding detectives who were able to determine that this whole story was bogus," NJ State Police said on Facebook.
According to police, the sketch and description of the "non-existent suspect" had a lot of details such as how many piercings the suspect had and where they were located, as well as Cohen's claim that the Shaq look-alike spoke with British or English accent.
"Which we mused whether or not the suspect accent was fake for genuine. Joke’s on us," police said in a statement.
Cohen also gave police a detailed description of the made-up suspect's vehicle, claiming it had tinted windows, damage to the driver's side bumper and a light-colored license plate, they said.
"Nice touch. But alas, Mr. Cohen ran out of steam when it came to the description of the driver of said suspect vehicle. It was as follows: white guy. Remember, character development, sir, character development," police said on Facebook.
Authorities say Cohen has been charged with filing a false police report and is awaiting a court hearing.
"The moral of the story is if you have a vivid imagination, perhaps you should do some writing," police advised in their statement. "Maybe you’re the next #JKRowling. But don’t report false crimes to police. We’d rather spend our time and resources on real crimes."
Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.