NewsTreasure CoastRegion St Lucie CountyPort St Lucie


Police: Port St. Lucie man pretends to be decorated veteran, receives federal benefits

Posted at 8:10 PM, Apr 04, 2018

Sixteen years of military service and 21 medals of honor. That's at the top off Edward Liroff's resume. Some would call him a hero, but Officer Joseph Byrne with Port St. Lucie Police calls him a phony.

"He definitely embellished a lot," Byrne said. 

For years, Liroff told stories about his service saying he was shot twice in combat and that he pulled two soldiers out of a burning helicopter.

He had the documents to go along with his stories, a Purple Heart license plate and a Florida driver's license with a veteran's classification. Each time using his DD214 form which is issued to military service members after they leave the military. He used it to receive veteran's benefits from the government, but when he tried to use that same form for a code enforcement job with the city, his luck changed.

"He obviously was able to fool the Department of Veteran's Affairs, he was able to fool the state of Florida, he was able to fool previous employers and it wasn't until I took the time to research it that he got caught," Byrne said. 

Byrne is a 16-year military veteran and said when he saw Liroff's DD214 form, he knew something wasn't right. 

For starters it said he enlisted in the Army at age of 16, and there were misspelled words on the form. 

After a three-week long investigation, he was able to verify that the documents were falsified.

"Mr. Liroff actually went so far as to getting a Ranger tattoo," he said. "He introduced himself to all of his neighbors as a combat veteran." 

Including his next door neighbor, Army veteran Marcus Keller. 

"It blows me and my wife's minds as soon as she found out the first thing she said is, 'I don't understand how he's getting away with this,'" Keller said.

He and his wife just moved into the neighborhood. But he says it didn't take long for Liroff to show up to his door and introduce himself as an Army veteran. 

"The thing that gets me the most is that he was going to PTSD classes, and I've had close friends of mine die from PTSD, that hit me pretty hard," he said. 

Liroff faces fraud charges. The FBI is looking into the case. 

On Friday, the Port St. Lucie Police Department said they were notified by government officials that the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Veteran's Affairs is currently investigating Liroff.