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Phony 9/11 Hero Comes Clean, But His Apology Falls On Deaf Ears

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A man accused of posing as a 9/11 hero has owned up to living a lie.

The phony firefighter has apologized for his wrongdoing, but for those who gave so much on that day it's simply not enough, CBS 2's Lou Young reports exclusively.

They needed a hero and he filled the bill: dress, uniform, weathered FDNY helmet and inspiring stories of surviving 9/11. Last year, Jordan Lifander told fellow firefighters in South Carolina he was at Ground Zero with the FDNY on 9/11. Even worse, he claimed he was captain of Ladder 133, which lost 12 men that day.

It was all a lie.

"You know, once you tell one lie, you gotta keep up that lie. I got all caught up in the whole 9/11 anniversary and just lied. I was not a member of the FDNY, was not a captain in Ladder 133," Lifander said Wednesday.

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On the day the towers fell Lifander, who was compelled to come forward after some real New York City firemen got wind of his charade, was really a volunteer in Cedarhurst on Long Island. He did not "survive" the disaster any more than those of us who watched it on television.

"It was that whole thing about portraying something I wasn't. The ego, the lie, keeping up with it, a very big mistake," Lifander said.

At his old firehouse there was no sympathy for Lifander's masquerade. They have a real 9/11 hero of their own. Kevin O'Rourke was a captain at the volunteer department before joining the FDNY. He died on 9/11. They don't have much patience for fake heroes there.

"It's a terrible situation. I feel bad for the people of South Carolina and I feel bad for the people in the whole 9/11 system," said Capt. John McHugh of the Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department.

Former FDNY Deputy Chief Jim Riches took an even dimmer view, having lost his own son and 40 firefighters under his command that day.

"It happens a lot because they want to get that hero worship, people telling them 'thank you' and everything else. It's a sick mind, but he's not the only one doing it. It's out there and I think people should verify who's actually speaking to them," Riches said.

"It just snowballed into something that was out of my control. I'm truly sorry for misleading and lying about the fact I was on FDNY," Lifander said.

We've seen 9/11 imposters before, but usually in connection with attempts to defraud the 9/11 victims' compensation fund. It appears that Lifander was interested in glory and not money. Chief Riches said he probably needs mental counseling, more than incarceration.

If you could speak to Lifander, what would you say? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below. ...

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