A former male U.S. Army private has been sentenced for imitating a female U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant to manipulate a woman he was training into posing for nude photos.
For impersonating an officer and employee of the United States, 46-year-old Miami Beach mixed martial arts trainer George Israel Lopez will serve a year in federal prison along with a year of probation.
The sentence came down Monday. The scam began two years ago, in December 2015.
That’s when Lopez started training a woman at Black House Miami Beach, a martial arts school at 7140 Abbott Ave.
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Lopez’s admission states he told the woman that "he was a Master Sergeant in the United States Army or Marines Corps, had been wounded in combat, was close to retiring, and on occasion drove a military-style Hum Vee with what appeared to be military equipment inside. This confirmed [the woman's] belief that Lopez was truthful about his military title and status.”
Lopez’s military life actually extended only from his Army enlistment on June 27, 2001, to June 28, 2002,; when he was “separated...under honorable conditions.” This is not the same as an “honorable discharge,” but rather for those whose service was adequate and perhaps marred by minor misconduct.
In October 2016, Lopez told the woman he would help her join the military. Soon after, Lopez told the woman that a former mentee of his, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Jenna Lee, would be contacting her about joining the military.
please forgive these last minute requests...I need you to retake 4 pics for the liaison; full frontal without covering potential tattoos area, inner thighs and feet.
E-mail from “Lt. Jenna Lee” (in reality George I. Lopez) to CDD, a woman who thought Lopez and “Lee” were helping her get into the military.
An e-mail from a Yahoo account introduced CDD to “Lt. Jenna Lee”:
“Greetings, this is a test email sent to potential enlistee for our armed forces. I received your info from Master Sargent Ray Lo, he was my mentor. I will help you as best I can. Please send your info to me in your own words so I can match it up with what I just received from Master Sgt. Lo with your requests, I’m sure he wants you to get a full ride.”
It was signed, “1st Lt. Lee, Jenna, U.S.C.G., Saving Lives, Not Taking Them” and was sent from an iPhone.
The woman's desire and Lopez’s duplicitous manner obscured the clues of the Yahoo account and use of a slogan not associated with the Coast Guard, according to court documents.
The woman continued to correspond with “Lt. Jenna Lee.” After a few more e-mails from “Lt. Jenna Lee” filled with almost cultish reverence for “Master Lo,” an e-mail demanded of the woman: “We need pics of your tattoos if any so full frontal, side and back pics. Please send ASAP, I have the female liaison with me helping push this through for you. I have 25 min to get this done so rush those pics for me. You now have your chance.”
Once the woman called Lopez about what she considered a strange request, he volunteered to take the photos. He did so and e-mailed them to “Lt. Jenna Lee’s” Yahoo e-mail address.
While the woman swam laps at a public pool on Nov. 15, 2016, she got an e-mail from “Lt. Jenna Lee” that said, “Good morning ... please forgive these last minute requests. Understand that I know you are in a rush to enlist and I took the task on so I am doing all I can to ship you before Christmas and it looks good. I need you to retake 4 pics for the liaison; full frontal without covering potential tattoos area, inner thighs and feet. I’Il have 20 minutes to push this in her so we can move on to your screenings.”
The woman saw the e-mail when Lopez, also at the pool, told her to check her phone. He then hustled her to take the photos immediately. Court documents say the woman felt intimidated by Lopez, but eventually took five photos that Lopez e-mailed to “Lt. Jenna Lee.”
More e-mail back-and-forth followed until another worshipful e-mail about “Master Lo” from “Lt. Jenna Lee” lacked any signature at the bottom. Then, the woman began wondering why the e-mails weren’t coming from a .gov or .mil account. And also about e-mails coming from an iPhone. And about sending personal information and photos via e-mail. And e-mailed photos being accepted at all.
When the woman e-mailed those concerns to “Lt. Jenna Lee,” the reply e-mail read, “I am sorry you feel this way, ma’am. Truth be told, given the fact that you cannot provide a clean urine sample and criminal history it will take a God in heaven to stretch His Almighty hand down here and guide you into a branch Himself. I am an expert at helping navigate around those pitfalls like the boy you know. I gave him his career.
“Well, good luck in whatever you do in this life, you are in my prayers.”
This acted as the reveal for the woman. She e-mailed “Cool story, Ray” to email@example.com and texted “You’re not a legit person, just lies!” to Lopez.
Lopez chose the name for his impersonation from Coast Guard employee Jennifer Lee — his ex-wife.