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'Go look at my Purple Heart!' Miami man who went on racist tirade posed as Navy SEAL

David Ovalle, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

MIAMI -- During a racist tirade caught on video, Joseph Fucheck waved a pistol around while yelling at a Black homeowner in North Miami-Dade. "Damn right, I carry a gun because I'm a 35-year former Navy SEAL!" he yelled. "Go look at my Purple Heart!"

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.

None of it was real.

Fucheck, 58, has been masquerading as a Navy SEAL for years, adding another twist in the strange story that made headlines across the country. The Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, which maintains paperwork for all SEALs since World War II, has no record of him. A real retired Navy SEAL, who tried confronting Fucheck a few years ago, called the man's bogus dress uniform a "total and complete mess."

Even Fucheck's own daughter says he never served in the military. She said Fucheck adopted the persona nearly a decade ago, making a sort of shrine to himself and his phony military service in his home -- complete with folded-up American flag. He also liked to get free drinks at restaurants while wearing his uniform.

"He's a narcissist," she told the Miami Herald. "He just has to be the center of attention."

 

In his quest for valor, Fucheck may have broken at least one minor state law. Fucheck drove a Jeep with a license plate specially designated for Purple Heart recipients. To obtain the tag, he had to submit legitimate military records to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Fucheck remains jailed while charged with aggravated assault with prejudice, the so-called "hate-crime" enhancement that makes the crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Fucheck returns to court on Tuesday, as Miami-Dade prosecutors seek to keep him behind bars before trial.

"Based on the defendant's conduct, (he) is a danger to the Black community and to the Miami-Dade community at large," Assistant State Attorney Khalil Quinan wrote to the court.

Fucheck's defense attorney did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

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