Prison for Man Who Posed as SEAL in ID Theft Case

NORFOLK -- A retired sailor who posed as a SEAL chief to convince other sailors to turn over their personal information was sentenced today to a little more than seven years in prison for bilking a credit union out of nearly $182,000.

Lionel Jason Haynes, 31, pleaded guilty to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. In U.S. District Court this morning, Haynes pleaded for mercy, telling the judge his "heart is filled with remorse, regret and embarrassment."

U.S. Chief District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith took little pity on Haynes, sentencing him to the maximum of 87 months under federally recommended guidelines.

"I find what you did unconscionable," she told him.

Citing, in part, Haynes' "horrendous criminal record," Smith rejected his request for a five-year prison term and to self-surrender. Marshals took him away immediately.

Haynes has 22 prior convictions, though his lawyer tried to argue that they were largely driving offenses.

Haynes admitted that he posed as either a Navy SEAL, as a SEAL chief or as a chief petty officer to gain the trust of young sailors. He obtained their personal information and obtained $181,000 in car loans from the Navy Federal Credit Union.

Initially, authorities said they thought there were 14 known victims but now they believe there were 25 to 30.

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