A man accused of impersonating a military officer was arrested earlier this week by the Polk County Sheriff’s office.
Detectives said Kyle Barwan, 27, met Katie Brees on the dating website “Plenty of Fish” in December and told her that he was a major in the U.S. Army Special Forces. According to the affidavit, he also claimed that he had just returned from a five-year deployment.
Barwan showed Brees pictures of time he spent oversees, and even went as far as creating a contact in his phone under the name “U.S. Government.” Over the next few weeks, Barwan’s lies continued.
On December 23, Barwan asked Brees for $60 so that he could participate in a Call of Duty charity video game tournament that he claimed would benefit a fallen soldier.
It wasn’t until Barwan was invited by Brees to a family Christmas party on Christmas Eve that suspicions rose about his military service.
Barwan received a phone call through a phony “U.S. Government” caller I.D. He then told Brees that he was promoted to Captain. This led family members to question his story. Her grandfather had previously fought in the Korean War.
Brees searched Barwan’s name online and found a blog that tracks cases of stolen valor. It detailed his two prior arrests in Kentucky and Illinois.
Brees contacted the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, and he was subsequently arrested and charged with soliciting funds and misrepresenting military service. He was taken into custody at Plant County jail, booked into the Hillsborough County jail, but it set to be transferred to Polk County jail.
“Lying about being in the military to steal money from someone is not only egregious, it’s against the law. It’s also a slap in the face to all the fine men and women across the nation who have served in our country’s military with honor. Kyle Barwan is a disgrace,” Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement.
Sheriff Judd said that he had previously spent five years in prison.
During the investigation of Barwan, a report revealed that he enlisted in the Army National Guard of Kentucky in 2007 but was discharged in January of 2008 at the rank of Private 2nd class. According to the report, he failed to meet medical procurement standards.
“These records prove that Barwan is no longer affiliated with the Army/Army National Guard, is not an Officer, was never deployed, and was never injured in the line of duty,” the report said.