The US Supreme Court will hear arguments today related to what is known as the Stolen Valor Act. A man who was found guilty and sentenced under the provisions of this recent law got the 9th Circus Court in California to overturn the verdict citing it as a violation of free speech. We aren’t talking about some guy who went into a bar and tried to hoodwink some blonde headed bimbo into a night of lascivious behavior.
Some of my online internet friends have been all over these sort of cases for years, and in fact a couple of them will be at the Supreme Court today to listen to the arguments. While they are there I decided to look up what the penalties are for impersonating lawyers, judges or law enforcement personnel. I always thought it hypocritical of judges who ruled that guys impersonating veterans with awards they didn’t earn, often to bilk people out of money or further their political careers were somehow not viewed in the same manner they viewed their own profession.
Impersonating an attorney
The maximum statutory penalty for aggravated identity theft in violation of 18 U.S.C. section 1028A is a mandatory minimum two years’ imprisonment, to run consecutively to any other sentence imposed, and a fine of $250,000.
Depending on state law, impersonating a police officer may be considered either a felony or a misdemeanor. Punishments for impersonating a police officer include:
Imprisonment up to five years (sometimes more)
Fines (usually $1000 or more)
Permanent criminal record
A person is guilty of Criminal Impersonation in the First Degree when:
1. He or she acts similar to NY PL 190.25(3) except that the person pretends to be a police officer or a federal law enforcement officer or wears or displays without authority, any uniform, badge or other insignia; and
2. That person acts with the intent to induce another to submit to such pretended official authority or otherwise to act in reliance upon said pretense and in the course of such pretense commits or attempts to commit a felony; or
3. Pretending to be a licensed doctor, physician or other person authorized to issue a prescription, he or she communicates to a pharmacist an oral prescription which is required to be reduced to writing.
Criminal Impersonation in the First Degree is a class E felony punishable by up to four years in state prison.
As you can see there are some pretty stiff penalties for impersonating other professions but for some reason way too many people think impersonating a veteran is a victimless crime. It isn’t. Because of the actions of John Kerry and a group of phony veterans back in the 60’s, known as the Winter Soldiers, who were granted an audience with congress, they allowed the smearing of an entire generation of soldiers. Most of the “Winter Soldiers” were later proven to have either never served or those that did serve were no closer to Vietnam then most of the readers of this blog are right now.
There are almost daily news stories about somebody claimi9ng to be a veteran who has managed to dupe honest people out of their money. Some of these impostors are indeed prior military, who feeling that their service record needed some punch, create entire fictional characters to act out their fantasies. A common refrain among veterans is “notice you never run into a guy who claims to be an oboe player in the 82nd Airborne?” They are always Marine Recon, Ranger, Seal, super secret squirrel types with more medals the Ft Knox has gold.
Okay, there I have vented. I hope the Supreme Court upholds the law and in their ruling make a recommendation to increase the penalties. Many veterans have taken a vow to never again let what happened to our service members during and after the Vietnam War to ever happen again.