WEST JEFFERSON-A West Jefferson business owner has retracted his claims of military service following a month-long investigation by the Jefferson Post.
Timothy Espinosa, owner of High Country Seafood Co., told the Jefferson Post on July 28 that he never served in the U.S. Army. That admission comes after repeated attempts by the Jefferson Post in June and July to confirm Espinosa’s time in the military.
In previous interviews, Espinosa told the Jefferson Post, and at least one other local media outlet, that he’d spent 14 years as a soldier and suffered from neurological issues stemming from his time in service.
He also repeated some version of those claims to other Jefferson Post staffers, and advertised his as a “Veteran Owned Small Business” in emails sent to subscribers to update them on his weekly seafood offerings.
Jefferson Post readers, however, called and emailed questions about Espinosa’s service claims following a June 24 profile piece on High Country Seafood. Many said Espinosa had never served as a member of the military.
The Jefferson Post made multiple attempts, beginning June 27, to reach out to Espinosa and his wife seeking documentation of his service claims. While Espinosa claimed through his wife that he had access to those records, he never provided those to the Jefferson Post.
A Freedom of Information Act request was also filed with the U.S. Army’s Human Resources Command, which can provide basic information related to a service member’s career.
On July 28, that office stated Espinosa had never served in the army.
When presented with the army’s human resources command letter, Espinosa disputed the spelling of his last name – in some correspondence he spells it Espinosa and at other times Espinoza – and briefly stuck to his service claims.
Espinosa did, ultimately, admit that afternoon that he had never served in the U.S. Army.
“Look, I’m sorry I said what I did,” Espinosa said. “I’m trying to build something for my family here, for my boys.”
Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058.