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Florida man again charged with impersonating a military officer

By MARILYN MEYER | The Ledger (Tribune News Service) | Published: February 20, 2017

LAKELAND, Fla. — A Lakeland, Fla. man, who already was in jail, now faces 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.

Kyle Christopher Barwan, 27, first came under the scrutiny of the Polk County Sheriff's Office in December after a blog reported Barwan had misrepresented his military service.

During their initial investigation, deputies found that Barwan had been charged with impersonating a military officer twice before — once in Kentucky and once in Illinois. They also discovered that a Polk County woman he'd met online said he had represented himself as an Army major. Barwan told the woman, Katie Brees, that he needed money to get into an online game-playing tournament to benefit one of his fellow soldiers who had been killed in the war, according to an arrest affidavit. She gave him $60 to purchase online gaming credits, the affidavit said.

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

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.

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 im way too connected." A separate message said, "See you soon."

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

The arrest affidavit says copies of Barwan's military records show he served in the National Guard of Kentucky between March 20, 2007, and Jan. 22, 2008, during which time he completed combat training and received a standard promotion to private 2nd class. He was discharged for "failure to meet medical procurement standards." He was not an officer and was never deployed, the affidavit says.

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.

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

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©2017 The Ledger (Lakeland, Fla.)
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