Jail time and hefty fines for a man caught benefitting from Stolen Valor

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    Stolen Valor USMC

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — John Cal Howe II, 42, of Lakehead, California, pleaded guilty today to 23 misdemeanor counts in a scheme to obtain thousands of dollars in veterans’ benefits to which he was not entitled, according to a government news release.

    Stolen Valor is more complicated than just wearing a uniform, donning medals one didn’t earn, or embellishing stories from days in service.  The Stolen Valor Act of 2013 specifically punishes those aforementioned offenders by charging them with a federal crime to “fraudulently hold oneself out to be a recipient of any of several specified military decorations or medals with the intent to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefit.”

    According to court documents, Howe pleaded guilty to one count of theft in connection with a healthcare program, 20 counts of theft of government property, one count of making a fraudulent demand against the United States, and one count of making a fraudulent representation about the receipt of military decorations or medals.

    What’s even more astounding is that this man bilked the VA — and they didn’t figure it out for years.

    According to the superseding information filed on January 14, 2016, between February 2012 and April 2015, Howe obtained health care benefits from the Veterans Affairs Health Benefits Program. He also obtained fraudulent travel reimbursements from the VA, and applied for a VA pension. He falsely claimed he was a decorated United States Marine Corps veteran and the recipient of three Purple Heart medals, although he had never enlisted or served in the armed forces of the United States.

    Howe falsely claimed he was a decorated United States Marine Corps veteran and the recipient of three Purple Heart medals, although he had never enlisted or served in the armed forces of the United States.

    This case is the product of an investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General.

    Howe is scheduled to be sentenced on April 25, 2016, by United States Magistrate Judge Edmund F. Brennan. Howe faces a maximum statutory penalty of one year in prison, a $100,000 fine, and a one-year term of supervised release on each count. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

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