Fake war hero pleads guilty to forging military documents
TAMPA - He told people he had a 30-year career in the Navy. He said he earned the Navy Cross and a Purple Heart. His resumé listed him as a retired master chief petty officer, a 20-year Navy Seabee who served in Operation Desert Storm in 2004 and twice in Operation Iraqi Freedom. But none of it was true.John Joseph Pietriekwicz, 51, of St. Petersburg actually served only four months in the Naval Reserve in 1979. And while the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned the nation’s “Stolen Valor” law that made it a crime to lie about military medals, it’s still illegal to forge military discharge papers. Pietriekwicz pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal misdemeanor charge, admitting he forged discharge papers. According to his plea agreement, Pietriekwicz was interviewed in 2011 by Navy Criminal Investigative Service agents and told them he got a retired military identification card when he was a bus driver in Tennessee and someone turned in the ID card as lost. Pietriekwicz scanned, altered and laminated the card. He said he also got an old military discharge certificate at a thrift store in Tennessee and altered that. He told investigators he had been faking his military service since about 2005 because it made it easier to get jobs. Under a plea deal, Pietriekwicz admitted guilt to counterfeiting a discharge certificate. A charge that he altered an identification card will be dropped. The charge to which he pleaded guilty carries a maximum of a year in jail, a $100,000 fine and a year of probation. Sentencing has not yet been set.