Man arrested for Stolen Valor, caught begging for money in uniform

Police say 54-year-old Freemane Brown lied about being a Navy SEAL, so he could get money from people by asking them to donate to veterans.

Last week, someone alerted the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office about a man in military uniform who was aggressively soliciting money for veterans at a Wawa Store in Tampa.

Deputies say when they went to the store, they found Brown wearing a U.S. 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 also noticed a name tag on Brown’s uniform, but the name was covered with a small piece of black tape.

According to the WFTS, “Deputies observed many of the items on the military uniform were not in compliance to standard military regulations.”  Brown voluntarily surrendered all of the military insignias at the scene, police said.

Two days earlier, the manager of the Wawa store reportedly gave Brown permission to stand outside the store since she believed he was a veteran.

While he initially told police that he was a former member of ‘Seal Team Six,’ Brown admitted, after further questioning, that he was “never a Navy Officer and never served as a Navy Seal.”

Brown purchased all of his military insignias including the Navy uniform at a local Army/Navy surplus store, according to the local ABC affiliate.  He was arrested yesterday and charged with unlawful use of uniforms, medals, or insignia — which is a felony.


  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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