WEATHERFORD — From Weatherford to Puerto Rico, the long of the arm is reaching out for a man accused of impersonating a Navy SEAL for gain.
Carlos Luna-Gonzalez wore a Navy lieutenant junior grade uniform with a SEAL trident, a Purple Heart, and jump wings. He was arrested on theft charges in a sting operation in November 2014 after he accepted a "firearm of appreciation" for his allegedly false service.
But police say Gonzalez jumped bond and took off for Puerto Rico.
"That's a touchy subject with a lot of us vets," said Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler on Tuesday.
Sheriff Fowler asked Puerto Rico police for help. Monday night, he got word they had his man.
"They wanted to know if we would extradite. They wanted to know in 10 minutes. They got their answer in eight," Fowler grinned. "He couldn't even shine the SEALs' boots, as far as I'm concerned."
Fowler's service included duty aboard two aircraft carriers.
Gonzalez was arrested the first time in Parker County about six months ago after a Texas Ranger was tipped off about the man who was was claiming rank and honors he had not earned. Authorities arranged to have him invited to Lone Star Guns in Weatherford.
"We were going to award him with a firearm for his service," said Lone Star's Joey Blanton.
Blanton served with the Army in Afghanistan, and he's a retired Indiana state trooper. He was glad to help in the sting.
When Gonzalez accepted the rifle, he was arrested. Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain explained that it was essentially theft by deception.
"I don't wish him ill will," Joey Blanton said. "I just want justice. [I] want him to stop posing as something he's not."
Sheriff Fowler said Gonzalez did serve a brief stint in the Navy, and received a general discharge.
The sheriff said he heard from a lot of vets who were especially angry about the SEAL trident and Purple Heart on the uniform.
The theft charge was only a misdemeanor. Jumping bond on the misdemeanor is a felony.
"I'm going to bring him back — one way or the other," Sheriff Fowler said. "He picked the wrong county, I'll tell you that."