9/11 veterans 'out' man who claimed to be firefighter at ground zero

When Don Prince saw a news story about Steven Shapiro being arrested on charges of credit card theft, he recognized him right away. Prince co-founded a substance abuse treatment center for first responders. Shapiro, he said, worked there for a while, and told people he was a fire lieutenant in Connecticut and had been at ground zero on Sept. 11. 2001.

Prince contests the truthfulness of those claims.

Such hoaxes are rare, but Prince says he and his colleagues have no patience for them.

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“There were 343 firefighters who died that day,” he said. “And it hits every one of us directly in the heart.”

Shapiro, 56, had been booked April 16 on charges that he used credit cards he found in the Delray Beach home of a woman from whom he rented a room to buy $1,823 worth of items, including a television.

When detectives tracked him to a Fort Lauderdale physical rehabilitation center, Shapiro reportedly confessed and told them he’d mounted the TV on his bedroom wall. “That’s probably how I blew out my disks,” he said.

Don Prince and the victim, Ilene Clark, came Thursday to the Palm Beach County Jail for an arraignment hearing, which was canceled at the last minute when Shapiro filed a written not guilty plea. He remained in jail Thursday. His bail is $21,000, but he also has an out-of-county warrant for an unresolved DUI case in Central Florida.

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