local man sentenced for faking military service and conducting phony raffle to aid veterans
St. Louis, MO – MATTHEW BUCKINGHAM was sentenced this morning to one year in prison by United States District Judge Henry Autrey.
According to court documents, Buckingham posted an advertisement on Craigslist in January 2013, indicating he was involved with a veterans’ charity identified as "Veterans Aid From All Foreign Wars." His advertisement stated that he planned to hold a raffle on July 4, 2013. Tickets would cost $5 each and he identified raffle awards of "First Prize: $3,000; Second Prize: $2,000; and Third Prize: $1,000." Through the advertisement, Buckingham solicited individuals to help him promote his charitable events, and he provided a contact number. Subsequently, a number of female individuals in the St. Louis area inquired and responded.
Buckingham arranged to meet the individuals who responded at various restaurants and bars in the St. Louis area and introduced himself as "Tyler Matthews." Buckingham claimed to be employed by various government agencies or departments of the United States, including claiming that he served as a United States marine in Afghanistan and Iraq; that he had been injured during the war; and since his return to the United States from overseas, he worked with the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Coast Guard; including working "undercover" in north St. Louis work infiltrating gangs and otherwise combating crime.
Ultimately, Buckingham did not hold a raffle on July 4, 2013, and he distributed no money from the ticket sales to wounded or homeless soldiers, veterans or other military personnel. Buckingham was not, and has never been, employed by the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security. Similarly, he never served in the United States military or the United States Coast Guard.
Buckingham, St. Louis County, pled guilty in August to one felony count of impersonating a federal agent. He appeared today for sentencing before United States District Judge Henry Autrey.This case was investigated by the Coast Guard Investigative Service and the Missouri Attorney General's Office. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Drake handled the case for the U.S. Attorney's Office.