NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Identical crimes committed two years apart, the NYPD admitted the first case slipped through the cracks, possibly allowing a convicted child sex offender to stay on the streets.

The man accused of impersonating a police officer in Brooklyn last week before allegedly molesting a 15-year-old boy could have been caught two years ago, police said Friday.

Police said Steven Pappas, 50, allegedly lured the victim him out of the 53rd Street subway station in Sunset Park, by flashing a duplicate NYPD badge, because the boy dropped a bag of chips. CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis reported.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly confirmed the original badge belongs to an active NYPD officer before dropping another bombshell. It turns out Pappas could have been caught two years ago, when a 12-year-old boy accused the man of molesting him.

“Someone gave him the duplicate, he makes the statement that an individual gave him the duplicate this month, someone who he knows,” Kelly said.

The 12-year-old’s case featured a similar story — it involved the same subway stop, fake badge and even a scolding for littering before an accused sexual assault.

Special Victims’ investigators, however, didn’t pursue the boy’s claim.

“They weren’t certain of his credibility,” Kelly said.

So Pappas remained free. The sketch — believed to be the convicted sex offender — was made after the latest alleged victim and business owners in the area gave a good description.

But Kelly said the big break came from the first accuser’s mother, who saw the sketch on television, and screamed, ‘that’s him!’

And so the question is did investigators make a terrible mistake, not believing a young boy, when they had the chance.

“Some people can say that. We have to judge credibility, it’s a very sensitive area, the Special Victims people are trained in this, and do it extremely well,” Kelly said.

Pappas is facing charges of child sexual assault at Brooklyn Criminal Court. Commissioner Kelly said the bottom line is Pappas is now off the streets.

Internals Affairs is looking into how Pappas got his hands on an NYPD badge.

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