Norm Giunta served in the Navy and, when he has the chance, he hires veterans to work for Bella Pool Service.
“If I can teach them a trade depending on their aptitude. We’ll move them up in pay as well as knowledge and give them more responsibility,” he said.
That’s why Guinta was glad to hire Stephen Lang, seen in his latest mug shot wearing a t-shirt that reads "veteran."
“He was in dire need of employment. And me being a veteran myself, I felt compelled to give him a shot,” Guinta said.
Guinta said Lang claimed to be an Army veteran who not only served in Afghanistan and Iraq but was injured in combat.
“He did show me his toe. It looked like it was quite deformed. He said that he also had two bullets logged in his spine,” he said.
But according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, Lang’s military tales are all lies.
We got a look at the fake discharge form he showed Guinta as part of a background check.
It says he was stationed at Camp Pendleton. And he served as a Special Forces weapons sergeant in command, with several medals and commendations along the way.
Deputies said Lang made the form himself by downloading it off the internet.
They said he also used the form to get a Purple Heart license plate from the DMV.
According to the arrest report, Lang told the same tales to another pool cleaning company.
Both business owners tell ABC Action News they fired Lang for poor performance.
They didn't find out he was a fake until investigators called from Hillsborough County. They were working another false valor case.
Records show Lang has been arrested twice before for the same thing.
“All the people that come back, and here he is trying to reap the benefits of a seed he had not sown. I was irritated and embarrassed,” said Guinta.
Guinta says Lang never carried himself like a military veteran. Now he knows why.
According to the sheriff’s office, Lang’s brother actually is a sergeant in the military. And is everything Lang aspires to be, but obviously hasn’t attained.