In 2008, then-Silver Spring resident Aaron J. Lawless received a national award from Glock for his military valor. The gun manufacturer named him its hero of the year, awarding him engraved pistols and honoring him at a gun show in Las Vegas.
Lawless' colleagues at the Silver Spring gun shop where he worked part time recognized him, too, with a small ceremony in honor of his national accolades.
Lawless deserved all the attention, everyone thought, because he had suffered multiple combat injuries in Iraq while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army, earning a Silver Star, four Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars.
The problem, federal prosecutors say, is that none of it was true.
Lawless was charged Thursday in federal court in Greenbelt with falsely representing himself to have been awarded decorations and medals.
Lawless, 25, now lives in Nebraska. A phone number for him could not be located and no attorney was listed for him in court records.
In an affidavit filed in court Thursday, prosecutors allege that Lawless told Glock representatives that he suffered combat injuries in Iraq and had received numerous valor awards while he was being considered for the company's annual hero award, which recognizes a service member or law enforcement officer for courage.
He first got in contact with Glock at a March 2007 marketing event at Atlantic Guns in Silver Spring, where he worked part time while undergoing treatment at Walter Reed Medical Center, according to court documents.
Lawless told the Glock manager at the event about his service, including claims that he was struck with shrapnel from a grenade, shot in the buttocks and leg, and hit by improvised explosive devices on two occasions, the documents say.
His colleagues at the gun store backed up his assertions, and the Glock employee helped Lawless submit information to be considered for the hero award, which he ultimately won.
In May, investigators began to receive information that Lawless' claims about his service were false, the affidavit says.
A review of his military records found that Lawless served in the Marines for just 35 days and received no awards, according to the affidavit. He then served in the Army for more than three years, but did not receive the Purple Hearts, Bronze Stars and other medals he claimed. Court documents say Lawless never suffered a combat injury and was at Walter Reed for severe headaches and memory loss caused by a pre-existing brain lesion.