More than a year in prison doesn’t stop delinquent from repeatedly stealing valor

Kyle Christopher Barwan

His service record is so light; it only takes one line of text to describe. Nevertheless, his claims of Valor and make-believe mercenary service fill pages … pages of arrest records and victim complaints.

Kyle Christopher Barwan, 27, who appears to be originally from Kentucky and who is now behind bars in Lakeland, Fl., is facing a second, separate charge of misrepresenting military service to solicit funds, plus an additional charge of tampering with a witness, after a second accuser came forward.

Barwan caught the attention of Polk County sheriffs in late 2016 when a blog reported the felon has misrepresented his military service. When the sheriff’s office began to investigate, they learned of his previous charges of impersonating a military officer twice before — once in Kentucky and once in Illinois.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office news release outlines Barwan’s offenses and describes how he used his imaginary valor to defraud victims of money … money he used to play the online game Call of Duty.

Barwan told the victim that he was a Major in the United States Army Special Forces, and he had just returned state side from a 5-year deployment in Afghanistan and England. He also told the victim that he needed to get into an online game-playing (Call of Duty) tournament to benefit one of his fellow soldiers who was killed in the war.

According to the release, Barwan barely served at all and was eventually discharged after only eight months of service for failure to meet medical procurement standards and his character of service was listed as “uncharacterized.”

When the Sheriffs Office received the military records they requested, the records prove that Barwan is no longer affiliated with the Kentucky Army National Guard, is not an Officer, was never deployed, and was never injured in the line of duty … refuting his claims that he was shot in the face while working as a mercenary for the CIA.

He was already in the Polk County Jail on $5,000 bail when the new charges were added Friday.

The newest charges derive from a second victim’s complaint.

Maria Gonzalez of Lakeland called deputies Feb. 15 after learning Barwan was in jail.

She told deputies she met Barwan online, followed by a date where he wore a Special Forces hat and told her he was a captain. He told her he had been deployed to Afghanistan and Germany, reports said. Over the course of a month she gave him $150 to $200 to help him pay bills, and then he asked for $60 to buy an online program he needed for his assignment in the military, according to the report.

Gonzalez said that she stopped talking to Barwan in late October, suspecting he was lying after he told her he also works for the CIA as a paid mercenary and had several hits in the Lakeland area, the report said.

When Gonzalez cut of communication, Barwan started harassing her.

Barwan continued to text Gonzalez and eventually said he was coming to her home.

When she told him not to do that, he responded, “You’ll do what? Call the police ha lol good luck with that you’ll find out that I’m way too connected.” A separate message said, “See you soon,” describes a story from The Ledger.

Gonzalez told investigators she wanted to call the police earlier but was scared of retaliation.

In 2012, Barwan was convicted in Kentucky on a charge of impersonating an officer and sentenced to 16 months in federal prison, followed by one year of supervised release. Then in September 2014, he was sentenced in Illinois to five months in jail on two counts of impersonating an officer.

Kyle Christopher Barwan in 2013 (Source: McCracken County Jail)
Kyle Christopher Barwan in 2012 (Source: McCracken County Jail)

Barwan remains in the Polk County Jail with a total bail amount of $7,000.

“Lying about being in the military to steal money from someone is not only egregious, it’s against the law,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in the release.

“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.”

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  • Jim Verchio is a staff writer for Popular Military. As a retired Air Force Public Affairs craftsman, Jim has served at all levels. From staff writer to Editor-In-Chief, he has more than 30 years experience covering military topics in print and broadcast from the CONUS to Afghanistan. He is also a two time recipient of the DoD’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award for journalism excellence.

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