(Tribune News Service) — Joseph Fucheck, a white Miami man who pointed a gun at a Black homeowner and hurled a racial slur, has pleaded guilty, accepted probation and will have to complete the usual array of conditions, such as mental-health counseling, substance abuse treatment and staying away from the victim.

But there’s one unusual requirement: He’s banned from pretending to be a military man.

The reason: Fucheck, 60, had for years been posing as a former police SWAT leader and Navy SEAL, donning a bogus military uniform, bragging about his supposed medals for valor, even getting free drinks. “Damn right, I carry a gun because I’m a 35-year former Navy SEAL! Go look at my Purple Heart!” he yelled during the June 2020 incident.

The plea deal, struck Monday, concludes the case against Fucheck, whose racist tirade was captured on camera and led to his arrest for aggravated assault with a firearm with prejudice. The criminal charge was enhanced under Florida’s “hate-crime” law, which stiffens the penalties and makes the crime punishable by 15 years in prison.

Under the plea deal, he’ll spend three years on probation. On Monday, Fucheck apologized to the victim, Dwayne Wynn, for the “unprovoked, unwarranted and senseless attack.”

“You did not deserve that, and it will not happen again,” Fucheck said.

Wynn approved of the plea deal. A civil lawsuit is expected to settle soon.

Fucheck’s arrest happened at a time when race relations in the United States had become increasingly tense in after the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by a white Minneapolis police officer who pressed his knee on Floyd’s throat for more than eight minutes

Wynn was chatting at his neighbor’s house when he saw Fucheck pull up, put a small advertising card in his mailbox and drive away. Wynn walked over and took the card out — Fucheck returned seconds later and began a “profanity-laced rant,” accusing Wynn of not living at the house and stealing his advertisement, according to an arrest warrant.

The warrant said that Fucheck lunged at Wynn, demanding the return of the card and pointing his pistol. After the man lowered the weapon, Wynn began recording the tirade with his phone. The video shows that Fucheck called Wynn a derogatory name for gay people and then the n-word before driving off.

Investigators soon learned Fucheck had a penchant for posing as a veteran.

Detectives found that supposed Purple Heart when they raided Fucheck’s Miami apartment, along with Navy certificates, dress uniforms and even portrait photos of Fucheck decked out like an admiral in front of an American flag. A real retired Navy SEAL, who tried confronting Fucheck a few years ago about his long-running scam told the Miami Herald that the man’s bogus dress uniform was a “total and complete mess.”

His own daughter also told the Herald that Fucheck never served in the military and created a shrine to his fake military service in his home, complete with folded-up American flag. “He’s a narcissist,” she said. “He just has to be the center of attention.”

The plea deal was accepted by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Laura Cruz. Fucheck was defended by lawyer Scott Kottler, and prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Khalil Quinan.

©2022 Miami Herald.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

(Carlos Bongioanni/Stars and Stripes)

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