GRANBURY – Police set up a sting operation Saturday to award a man they say was falsely claiming to be an active-duty Navy SEAL with a "firearm of appreciation" before arresting him on charges of impersonating a ranking officer.
Weatherford-Parker County special investigators worked with the Texas Rangers to arrest Carlos Felipe Luna-Gonzalez, 29, three days before Veterans Day.
Gonzalez has posted photos on social media wearing a Navy dress uniform while dining at a local coffee shop. The uniform had a Lieutenant Junior Grade Rank, displayed a Navy SEAL Trident, Jump Wings, and other various awards.
The 29-year-old had also told local law enforcement officials he was stationed at Naval Air Station Carswell as he awaited a medical discharge for injuries he claimed he suffered in Africa on a Navy SEAL operation.
A source contacted Texas Ranger Anthony Bradford, who is a Army veteran and has a son in the Navy, and told Bradford of the alleged deception.
An investigation found Gonzalez was given an early general discharge from the Navy as an enlisted seaman apprentice, and had never been a commissioned officer or a SEAL, nor had he earned a purple heart or faced active combat.
Texas Ranger Bradford contacted one of the local law enforcement officers Gonzalez had allegedly lied to and had him introduce Gonzalez to the owner of Lone Star Guns, a supporter of military veterans and the local wounded warrior project, who wanted to personally thank Gonzalez and present him with a "firearm of appreciation."
Gonzalez came to the meeting Saturday in dress blue Navy uniform with an officer's insignia, the Navy SEAL Trident and a Purple Heart, and told the store's owner about how he had been shot in combat.
He was presented with a rifle worth $2,300, which he accepted, and was taken into custody and charged with theft, tampering with a government document, and for presenting a fraudulent military record.
He was released after posting $18,500 bond.
Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler, a Navy veteran himself, was disturbed by the alleged offense.
"The entire situation is more than bothersome," Fowler said. "It is plain troubling. 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."