Fake N.Y. firefighter received as a hero, arrested

Monday, September 16, 2002

LETHBRIDGE, Canada -- An American parole violator who claimed to be a New York city firefighter on stress leave in Canada, where he received a hero's welcome, was arrested by Canadian police, an official said Sunday.

"Michael Carle LaCarte, 39, was arrested on Friday and is now being held at a correctional institute," said Staff Sgt. Dave Hastie.

LaCarte told people in Alberta that he was a seven-year firefighter in midtown Manhattan, and that 11 of his co-workers died when the World Trade Center towers collapsed, fire platoon chief Charlie Brown said.

Brown said he came to the Lethbridge fire department headquarters on Sept. 10 and "we received him as a hero and brother."

The local firefighters showed him around, gave him a T-shirt and a ball cap, bought him dinner and the union gave him a $95 check for a treat at a nice local restaurant, Brown said.

"What can I say... he got us good... he swept us off our feet," said Brown.

Local newspaper Lethbridge Herald quoted Oregon City, Ore. parole officer Malcolm McDonald as saying LaCarte was in custody when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks happened.

McDonald said LaCarte was arrested July 28, 2001, in Phoenix, Ariz. area on charges of parole violation from Oregon. He was extradited to Oregon and eventually released on Nov. 28, 2001.

He allegedly broke his parole again and a warrant for his arrest has been in effect since Dec. 7, 2001. Police would not say what his original crime was, but Canadian media reported it was aggravated theft.

He spent the anniversary of the terrorist attacks with the family of Wendy Gulyas, who was touched by his Sept. 11 story. LaCarte met Gulyas when her motor home was hit by a drunk driver and she was seriously injured. LaCarte accompanied her to the hospital.

Police said LaCarte will remain in custody in this southern Alberta city until an extradition hearing next week.

He is not charged with any crime in Canada, but is detained under the Immigration Act which allows Canadian officials to apprehend an individual wanted for alleged crimes in the U.S.

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