A man faces extradition from Puerto Rico after he was accused in Texas of pretending to be an elite Navy SEAL. It is reportedly a case of “stolen valor.”
Carlos Luna-Gonzalez served in the Navy as an apprentice, but he aroused suspicion in Texas last year after allegedly dressing in a Navy lieutenant junior grade uniform with a Purple Heart, SEAL trident and jump wings, officials said.
Acting on a tip, Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler – who is also a veteran – found military records showing Luna-Gonzalez never served as a SEAL, so Fowler worked with local gun shop owner Joey Blanton for an elaborate sting operation to apparently “frame” Luna-Gonzalez.
So, in a time when America has the highest prison population (as a percentage) in the world – more than any other country – the Parker county Sheriff decided it was worth it to create a sting operation to put this man in jail.
“We were going to award him with a firearm for his service,” Blanton said.
Luna-Gonzalez allegedly accepted an expensive assault rifle as a gift, and was arrested.
But police say he jumped bail, fleeing to Puerto Rico. He was taken into custody Monday and has not entered a plea.
In 2013, President Barack Obama signed into law The American Legion-backed Stolen Valor Act of 2013, which made it a “federal crime for an individual to fraudulently hold oneself out to be a recipient of any of several specified military decorations or medals with the intent to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefit,” according to the website http://www.legion.org.
The question in the Luna-Gonzalez situation would be: did he do it “with the intent to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefit.” In other words, did he dress up and claim he was a Navy SEAL in order to obtain the “expensive assault rifle” as a gift?
The real question would be if this was police entrapment.
The website lectlaw.com states, “A person is ‘entrapped’ when he is induced or persuaded by law enforcement officers or their agents to commit a crime that he had no previous intent to commit…”
“The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the original Stolen Valor Act of 2005, saying it was unconstitutional because it was too broad in scope and violated the right of free speech,” according to http://www.legion.org.