Conn. man accused of phony veteran scam

For more than a year, Jesus Garcia claimed he was an Army Ranger wounded while serving four tours of duty in Afghanistan, police said Monday.

The 20-year-old Connecticut man had an Army Ranger tattoo on his shoulder, claimed a facial blemish was from shrapnel and posed in a military uniform, according to police. They said he even convinced his mother, girlfriend and friends he was in the military and planned to speak at a local Memorial Day ceremony before he was caught.

Garcia, who never served in the Army, was arrested last week on charges of larceny, fraudulent representation of Armed Force uniform, fraudulent use of military insignia and interfering with an officer after he gave a false name and date of birth.

“I would say he’s a scoundrel,” said Lt. Kraig Gray, a police spokesman. “He is perpetrating a life-altering fraud. He’s living this lie.”

Garcia apologized to veterans during an interview Monday with The Associated Press.

“I know what I did was dumb,” Garcia said. “It’s something I will never do again.”

Garcia said he dreamed of being in the military since he was a kid, but failed the test to get into the Army. He had dropped out of high school.

He said he obtained the uniform online and wore it on the train to New York several times, getting free rides as a result. He said he posed in the uniform on his Facebook page, admitted he received about $900 from two people.

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