VETERAN SENTENCED TO TWO YEARS IN PRISON
BIRMINGHAM - A federal judge today (9/9) sentenced an Army veteran to 24 months in prison for wearing war medals he did not earn, making false statements to obtain an Army contract and committing wire fraud to sell a cheap synthetic stone as an expensive diamond, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick Maley and U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent in Charge Thomas Wilkin announced.
U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn sentenced SKYLER TARQUIN SMITH, 27, of Huntsville, to 2 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered forfeiture in the amount $70,000 for crimes.
According to a document filed in court, Assistant United States Attorney David Estes argued “the sentence to be affixed should be consistent with the high end of the guidelines and that the Court should depart upwardly and sentence the SMITH to an additional 6 months for Count Three of the Indictment, Unauthorized Wearing of the Purple Heart Medal.”
“Mr. Smith spun lies on top of lies to inflate his image and to steal money,” Vance said. “He faked appraisal and auction records in order to sell a piece of costume jewelry for $70,000. He also falsely claimed the honor and sacrifice of a battlefield soldier as he pursued another con. He has earned his jail time,” she said.
SMITH pleaded guilty in April 20, 2010 to one count of wire fraud for advertising and selling what he claimed was a diamond worth $350,800, on Ebay. SMITH advertised the diamond for $140,000; sold it for $70,000 and provided fake appraisal and auction records to support his claims of ownership and the stone’s worth, according to his plea agreement. The stone was a cubic zirconia worth about $13.
SMITH also pleaded guilty to claiming to be a military veteran disabled in service in order to bid on an Army contract to provide ballistic vests. SMITH submitted a bid on behalf of NBC Tactical and won a $168,643 contract to supply the vests, the plea agreement says. The Army terminated the contract for the company’s failure to deliver the vests.
Army investigators found SMITH received an Other Than Honorable Discharge from the Army and that he never was classified with any disability, although he claimed in writing to have received Purple Hearts for wounds he suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the Bronze Star Medal, according to his plea agreement.
SMITH pleaded guilty to five counts of military medals fraud for wearing, without authorization, the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Senior Parachutist Badge, the Air Assault Badge and the Bronze Star.
SMITH had applied to become a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and rode in the organization’s Veteran’s Day parade last year wearing a uniform and the Purple Heart medal. A photo of Smith wearing the Combat Infantry Badge, the Senior Parachutist Badge and the Air Assault Badge was included on a Web site for NBC Tactical.
SMITH has admitted that he never deployed overseas, was never in combat and has not earned combat medals. He also acknowledged he was discharged from the Army, in lieu of court martial, for being absent without leave, according to his plea agreement.
In March 2010, SMITH was released on bond and advised of certain conditions of his release, one of which, that “he not use the internet in regard to, or engage in, government contracting.” He was required to submit to searches of his e-mail by his probation officer.
On August 20, 2010, based upon violations of conditions of release, a Petition for Action on Conditions of Pretrial Release was filed by the US Probation Office. At the bond revocation hearing held on August 24, 2010, SMITH’s bond was revoked after his probation officer intercepted hundreds of e-mails SMITH had sent regarding government contract work which he was specifically barred from engaging in. The probation officer also testified that an e-mail dated June 7, 2010, sent by SMITH contained a resume that included false claims regarding his military experience and educational advancements.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Army Criminal Investigation Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney David H. Estes prosecuted it.
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