A man from north Texas who falsely claimed to be a wounded Navy SEAL has been sentenced to spend four years in prison.
The man from Granbury, Texas, pleaded guilty to a charge of theft after he accepted a gun donated to honor his falsely claimed service record. Carlos Felipe Luna-Gonzalez said he was a Naval officer who had been wounded while serving as a Navy SEAL.
A local gun store worked with police after becoming suspicious of Luna-Gonzalez’ claims, the Associated Press reported. He presented the fake sailor with a rifle valued at $2,300 to honor his “service.”
The photo above shows the fake uniform of a Navy SEAL Lieutenant Junior Grade (LtJG) that was confiscated from his home by the local sheriff’s office. The uniform displays the emblem of the Navy SEALs, Navy Jump Wings, a Purple Hear ribbon and the rank insignia of a line officer LtJG.
It turned out that Luna-Gonzalez had been in the Navy, but served as a seaman-apprentice – a far cry from the Navy SEAL officer status he claimed. Following his arrest, the ex-sailor fled to Puerto Rico where he was eventually extradited to Texas to face the theft charge.
Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler wasted no time in bringing Luna-Gonzalez to stand trial. The sheriff, a veteran himself, told ABC News, “That’s a touchy subject with a lot of us vets.”
“They wanted to know if we would extradite. They wanted to know in 10 minutes. They got their answer in eight,” Fowler grinned. “He couldn’t even shine the SEALs’ boots, as far as I’m concerned.”
The flight to avoid prosecution only made matters worse for the Granbury man. The theft charge earned him a 16-month sentence. The failure to appear and bond jumping charges added three more years to his sentence.
The federal Stolen Valor Act makes it a crime to benefit by making false claims about military service.
“Stolen valor is not a harmless crime,” said Military Times Hall of Valor Curator Doug Stern. “It’s a lie. It’s deception.”