Freemane Brown, 54, lied about military service and wore Navy uniforms, ribbons, and other awards to beg for money, according to deputies.Brown, 54, was charged with unlawful use of uniforms, medals, or insignia, which is a felony.
On August 7, a citizen told Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office that a man wearing a military uniform was aggressively soliciting money for veterans at the Wawa Store at 804 E Bearss Ave in Tampa.
When deputies went to check it out, they found Brown on the east side of the store wearing a United States Navy uniform with a rank of Commander and 21 ribbons to include the Navy Cross and Silver Star, along with the Navy Seal Trident and Jump Wings. Deputies observed many of the items on the military uniform were not in compliance to standard military regulations.
Deputies made contact with the manager of the Wawa store and she advised she gave permission to Brown two days earlier to stand outside the store since she believed Brown was a veteran.
During questioning, Brown first made statements he was a former member of Seal Team Six and traveling all over the world. After further questioning, Brown admitted he was never a Navy Officer and never served as a Navy Seal.
Deputies learned Brown purchased all of his military insignias including the Navy uniform at a local Army/Navy surplus store. Deputies also noted Brown had a name tag on the uniform, but his name was covered with a small piece of black tape. Brown voluntarily surrendered all of the military insignias at the scene.
On August 12, Brown was arrested at his home and booked into the Hillsborough County Jail.
What is Stolen Valor?
The Stolen Valor Act of 2013 (Pub.L. 113–12; H.R. 258) is a United States federal law that was passed by the 113th United States Congress. The law amends the federal criminal code to make it a crime for a person to fraudulently claim having received any of a series of particular military decorations and awards with the intention of obtaining money, property, or other tangible benefit from convincing someone that he or she rightfully did receive that award. However wearing a military uniform in public with no prior service isn't illegal, it only becomes illegal when someone takes credit for serving in the military when no service has been done.
Have you seen someone who you think may be committing stolen valor? Visit our friends at Stolen Valor / Guardian of Valor with questions or concerns..