The case against three people accused of operating the bogus Masonic Fraternal Police Department — a supposedly ancient force that claimed to work in 33 states and Mexico — partly collapsed on Monday when the charges against one defendant were dismissed and the organization's so-called chief suddenly died, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Hours after he appeared in a San Fernando, CA, courtroom, David Inkk Henry, the 47-year-old "grandmaster," died of a pulmonary embolism at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, attorney Gary Casselman said.

Earlier in the day, L.A. County Superior Court Judge Hayden Zacky had granted a motion to dismiss the charges against Brandon Kiel, a former community affairs staffer with the California Department of Justice whom authorities said had impersonated a police officer and misused his government-issued ID.

The developments drastically altered a case that grabbed headlines when Henry, Kiel, and Tonette Hayes were arrested last spring — and left Casselman wondering why the charges had been brought to begin with.

Police "could have told Mr. Henry and Ms. Hayes and Mr. Kiel, 'Listen, this is not a good idea. Someone might think you are impersonating a police officer,'" Casselman said. "I think [police] are jealous of anyone who might be perceived as an interloper or, pardon the expression, a competitor."

Related:

Aide for California Attorney General Accused of Running Fictional Police Force

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