Charges: Man used fake PI shtick at Butterfield, St. James gas stations

A man accused of pretending to be a private investigator in Cottonwood County allegedly used the same shtick on victims in Butterfield and St. James.

Jason James Lambright, 46, of South St. Paul is facing gross misdemeanor charges of unlicensed private detective in two separate cases in Watonwan County.  He was also charged last week with disorderly conduct.

According to a criminal complaint, an agitated Lambright came into the Casey’s General Store on Heckman Court on the evening of April 19.  The complaint says he apprached the employee at the counter and demanded to speak to the manager.  He allegedly identified himself as a private investigator and told the employee he needed her ID number.  The employee initially thought Lambright was from corporate Casey’s, but realized that he was the same person who’d  recently threatened to handcuff her coworker. When she declined to give her ID number, he allgedly showed her a pair of handcuffs and asked: “Do you want to be handcuffed next?”  Lambright backed off and went outside when the employee told him she was calling the police.

The complaint say Lambright met St. James police in the parking lot, where he told them he was investigating illegal cigarette sales and drug flow at Caseys.  He allegedly showed the responding St. James officer an ID and a copy of a surety bond that was poor quality and hard to read.

Police say Lambright had handcuffs in a case, a baton, and a can of pepper spray on the hood of his car.  He  told police that he sometimes had to detain people in his line of work, and he’d recently performed a consented frisk.

The employee told officers Lambright had previously been in the store bothering other employees, and it made her very uncomfortable to have him there.  Lambright was trespassed from the store.

The next day, detectives learned that Lambright had been in the store for three days in a row.

Another employee told police that he was leaving Casey’s the night of April 17 when Lambright knocked on his window and told him to get out of the car.  Lambright allegedly questioned him about his vape, displayed his handcuffs, and asked for permission to search the victim, who thought he was dealing with an off-duty police officer.  The victim gave Lambright permission to pat him down.  The victim was working at the store the following night when Lambright approached him and told him he was a private investigator and could also be the victim’s probation officer.  The complaint says he waved a baton and the handcuffs as he spoke, and told employees he’d detained the victim the night before.

On April 27, Lambright and an unknown female came into the Butterfield Casey’s store “screaming and cussing,” in Spanish, according to a second criminal complaint. When the woman responded in a Native American tongue, Lambright told her his Native name was “Little G.”  He allegedly asked the woman he was with to leave the store, and the employee tried to also get him to leave. The complaint says he returned to the register and pulled a private investigator lanyard from under his shirt, then left the store with the woman.  The employee told deputies she was “creeped out” by the interaction with Lambright and wrote down his license plate number.

The complaint says investigators put out an attempt to locate after the incident, and Scott County Dispatch responded that a similar incident had occurred in the county on April 19.

Investigators say Lambright’s Facebook page indicates he is the owner and CEO of private investigator business.  Police say he also had videos talking about the encounter at the St. James gas station.  There is no record of Lambright being licensed as a private investigator, according to the complaint.

Lambright was charged for a similar incident in Cottonwood County last month after he allegedly played private investigator at a Casey’s station, displayed his handcuffs and threatened to detain a female.

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