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Police: Ex-Navy SEAL lied about Ohio mall shooting

By Ray Sanchez, CNN
updated 5:49 PM EDT, Thu September 4, 2014
Chris Heben has appeared on numerous news outlets, including CNN.
Chris Heben has appeared on numerous news outlets, including CNN.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Christopher Heben is accused of lying to police about shooting
  • An ex-Navy SEAL, Heben was a frequent guest on news shows
  • Investigators could not corroborate his account

(CNN) -- A former U.S. Navy SEAL commando, motivational speaker and frequent guest on national news shows is accused of lying to investigators about the circumstances of a shooting at an Ohio mall, police said Thursday.

Christopher Mark Heben's website, sealteamconsulting.com, says he "emerged as the media's most featured Special Operations subject matter expert " after U.S. forces killed terrorist Osama bin Laden in 2011. Heben has appeared on numerous news outlets, including CNN, to speak about special operations and other subjects.

But it was Haben's story of being wounded by gunfire during a verbal altercation in the parking lot of an Ohio mall on March 28 that catapulted him onto the national stage.

Heben is to be arraigned later this month on two misdemeanor counts of falsification and obstructing official business, Bath Township Police Chief Michael McNeely said.

"We could not corroborate his story," McNeely told CNN affiliate WKYC. "The more we looked into it the more evidence we gathered that he was not telling the truth."

Heben reported being shot during a parking lot altercation. But detectives determined the shooting did not occur at the mall, police said, without elaborating.

Calls seeking comment from Heben and his lawyer, Kerry O'Brien, were not returned Thursday.

At the time of the shooting, Heben said the suspects fled in a gray sports car, WKYC reported.

McNeely said officers checked between six and 12 surveillance cameras in the area and could not confirm his account, WKYC reported.

Heben allowed police access to his registered gun and the bullet that struck him didn't match his weapon, McNeely said.

Investigators do not have a theory on how Heben was injured, police said.

On Heben's Facebook page, which describes him as a former "U.S. Navy SEAL turned Health Care professional, Veterans Advocate, Voice Actor, Actor, Writer, Singer/Songwriter, Author," a photo was posted under his name on the day the charges were announced. The caption on the photo said, "Reaching a goal is noteworthy. But the real story often lies in the climb!"

Reactions to the post were mixed, mostly supportive of him.

One man wrote: "Before anyone on here judges Chris, let's wait until his attorney gives him the OK to tell everyone what happened. Then make your judgment call. But don't sit on here and tear down a Former US Navy SEAL who fought and signed his life on a blank check to defend the USA. That is just horrible. When the time is right, Chris will tell us."

In another post, a woman wrote: "what about what the news is reporting, CMH? ... just because someone fights for our freedom doesn't mean they are entitled to file false police reports. If that's even true. I'm just wondering what happened like I'm sure the rest of the people are wondering. No one tarnishes anyone, people tarnish themselves."

The falsification charge is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, police said. Obstructing official business is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine.

The case is not Haben's first run-in with the law.

Heben's physician assistant license was suspended indefinitely by the Ohio Medical Board after he pleaded no contest in July 2008 to three felony counts of forgery. The disposition of the case was not immediately known.

The State Medical Board of Ohio accused Heben of "illicit forging of prescriptions for controlled substance," according to an online copy of the board's findings. The board also said he used his "position as a physician assistant to facilitate the commission of these offenses."

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