An elaborate law enforcement sting operation has led to the arrest of a 29-year-old man who was parading around North Texas as a Navy SEAL. Carlos Felipe Luna-Gonzalez is charged with falsely representing himself as an active-duty Navy SEAL and for accepting an award as a result of his fictitious service.
According to the Parker County Sheriff's Office, Luna-Gonzalez repeatedly identified himself as a military officer. While dining at a local coffee shop, the man would don Navy dress blues replete with a Navy SEAL trident, Jump Wings and "other various awards which were affixed to his uniform."
"This man stole a title which has been earned by many through bloodshed of their own," Parker County sheriff Larry Fowler said.
Luna-Gonzalez posted photos on social media that identified his rank as "Lieutenant Junior Grade" and had even told a group of law enforcement officers in Granbury that he was "temporarily stationed at NAS Carswell, while awaiting a medical discharge for injuries he supposedly suffered while stationed in Africa during a Navy SEAL operation."
The investigation into Luna-Gonzalez's military career began when someone contacted Texas Ranger Anthony Bradford, who is also a veteran, and reported that Luna-Gonzalez was purporting to be a Navy SEAL.
Bradford learned that Luna-Gonzalez's true rank was enlisted seaman apprentice, and that he was given an early general discharge from the Navy. "His service record does not reflect he was ever a commissioned officer, a Navy SEAL, nor did he ever earn a purple heart or face active combat," Parker County Sheriff's Office said in a release.
To catch Luna-Gonzalez in his deception, Bradford and local law enforcement from Granbury told the young man that he was going to be presented with "a firearm of appreciation" for his military service. When Luna-Gonzalez arrived at Lone Star Guns on November 8 to receive his award, he was arrested — but not before he told the owner of the gun shop a harrowing tale about how he was "shot while in combat."
Parker County sheriff Larry Fowler, himself a Navy veteran, was disturbed by the young man's actions, which occurred just before Veteran's Day.
"It is plain troubling," Fowler said. "Our citizens pride themselves in honoring true veterans, just as the rest of the country. This man stole a title which has been earned by many through bloodshed of their own."
Luna-Gonzalez was reportedly wearing a Naval officer uniform when he was arrested and charged with theft, tampering with a government document and for creating a fraudulent military record. He was released from jail on a $18,500 bond.