An Army deserter who admitted he spent years masquerading as a federal law enforcement agent and Special Ops sergeant who earned the Purple Heart is scheduled to be sentenced Monday.
Simon Emilio Zablah, 29, of Broward County, pleaded guilty last year to two charges of impersonating a federal officer and one count of credit card fraud.
The offenses carry a maximum punishment of 16 years in federal prison, but the prosecution and defense agreed to recommend Zablah serve a year and a day in prison and receive mental health treatment.
Zablah has struggled with emotional and psychological problems for many years and knows he needs counseling and mental health treatment, his lawyer Assistant Federal Public Defender Neison Marks said in court.
Zablah went AWOL from the U.S. Army less than two weeks after he enlisted in January 2005, records show. He was later discharged on “other than honorable conditions.”
FBI agents and investigators from the U.S. Department of Defense said Zablah led a complicated life of deception for years. He convinced many people he had survived being wounded in action and had earned the prestigious Purple Heart.
He told many people he was working as a law enforcement agent for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and also claimed to be working on a top-secret classified mission as a member of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Special Ops forces.
Zablah frequently wore a full military uniform, decorated with honors and badges, that got him special treatment, including free meals from restaurants, authorities said.
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