MAMARONECK -- Some drivers in the suburbs north of New York City were startled when they saw a man waving his arms, honking his horn and flashing a silver badge in a frantic effort to get them to pull over in traffic.
Even more surprising was who was suspected of doing it: a respected rabbi.
Rabbi Alfredo Borodowski has been arrested in one case and is being investigated in at least two more in which authorities say the apparent reason for trying to pull people over was to rage at them for cutting him off or driving too slowly.
"That girl was driving too slow and I hate when people do this," the 49-year-old Borodowski told investigators after he was charged with impersonating a police officer in June, when he allegedly pulled his Camry alongside a woman's car in Mamaroneck, flashed a badge and shouted: "Police! Police! Pull over!"
The woman, whose name has not been made public, did not pull over. According to her lawyer, Richard Clifford, the rabbi "just laid on the horn and started screaming at her" as she obeyed a 20-mph limit in a school zone. "She was so freaked out with the horn honking and the screaming that she called police immediately. . . . I believe my client was in danger with this guy and if she had gotten out of her car it could have escalated."
Borodowski denied to police he was trying to impersonate an officer, saying he was telling the woman only that he would be "calling the police."
Police confiscated the badge, which read: "Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority Officer 1338." Judie Glave, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees the bridge and tunnel authority, said the badge is "totally fake."
Borodowski's lawyer, Andrew Rubin, acknowledged that the rabbi's behavior has been "manic" and said he's suffering from bipolar disorder. The lawyer said the rabbi will plead not guilty in court this week. A previous hearing was postponed because the rabbi was hospitalized.
The rabbi has been fired from a position at prestigious Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan, one of the world's largest Jewish houses of worship. He also leads a congregation in Larchmont.
Borodowski was still listed as rabbi on the website for Congregation Sulam Yaakov in Larchmont. A call to the synagogue was answered by a man who said: "No comment. That's his personal life."