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Dan grew up in Hollywood, the son of an interior designer mom and a medical executive father. When he was 11 years old, a "terrifying" cop chased him off a golf course. It frightened him so much he began to question people with power. He admits, "I'm predisposed to thinking they're all jerks."
After high school, he joined the Navy to earn money for college. He became a corpsman and traveled to Naples, Italy, where he was busted for stealing an AC adapter from a military exchange store. He was cuffed while in uniform, he says.
Months later, he got drunk, smashed a government fire extinguisher case, and was booted from the service. He received a general discharge under honorable conditions but got no financial help with school. "I was ashamed," he confesses.
Dejected, Dan returned home and majored in journalism at FIU. In 2001, he landed a job as a TV reporter at KBMT in Beaumont, Texas, one of the most polluted industrial towns in the nation. One day, during a Hawaiian-themed fundraiser at the station, Dan made a sex joke live on television. He gestured toward a lei around his neck and urged viewers: "Come on down to the station and get lei-ed." His conservative boss immediately canned him.
A year later, he scored an anchor position at the small lakeside town of Greenville, Mississippi. Back then, Kelly McCullen was a reporter at a competing station. In his Southern twang, McCullen recalls, "Dan was pretty darn intense. He'd always show up to the scene of a crime wearing a suit and tie, even on 100-degree days."
After a friend replaced him as anchor, Dan moved back home in 2004. In May, he pulled into a parking lot across from a baseball field in Pembroke Pines. An undercover police officer watched him take a hit of marijuana; then the cop searched him, finding one pain pill in his pocket. (He was charged with possession, pleaded guilty, and received six months' probation.)
Last December, a Broward Sheriff's Office deputy pulled him over for playing music too loudly in his car. According to the police report, the officer asked him to "keep his hands on the steering wheel... three times." Dan argued, "This is a free country," and was cited for disobeying a police officer. (The case was later dismissed.)
Outside the Pollo Tropical a week after the cop ambushed him near the shrubs, Dan is back with his high-definition camera. Amid the glow of fast-food signs, Tamara Stone — the model and robbery victim — is ready for her closeup. She wears high heels as she tells her story:
After she pulled into the drive-through a couple of months ago, a man wearing a bandanna over his face emerged from the bushes. "He jumps in my car and puts a gun to my head," she says, adding he snatched her purse. She filed a police report and now claims Pollo Tropical is partly responsible. The reason: Nearly all of the outside lights were burnt out, making the dark lot unsafe.
More than a month after posting the ad, Dan still hasn't found the "guilty party" to confront on camera. But he is pleased: Pollo Tropical management has since replaced the light bulbs. He suspects employees saw him zooming in on the lamps. "It's the power of the camera," he says, beaming. "Justice has been served... but we're not done yet."