Smithville Man Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for the Internet Sale of Phony Military Documents
Robert E. Neener, 65, of Smithville, Tenn., was sentenced in federal court on July 13, 2012, to three years in prison for possessing and selling documents bearing counterfeit federal agency seals, and pretending to be a federal officer or employee, announced Jerry E. Martin, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. Chief U.S. District Court Judge Todd Campbell also ordered Neener to pay more than $43,000 in restitution to over 600 victims who had purchased documents from Neener through his Internet website, believing that the documents he sold were authentic and genuine.
“The results of this case should send a strong message to those who are either engaged in similar fraudulent activity, or are thinking about it,” said Jerry Martin, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. “Such persons should know that if evidence demonstrates that you have used the Internet to commit wire or mail fraud, you will be investigated, prosecuted and sentenced accordingly.”
Neener pleaded guilty in March 2012 and admitted that from January 2007 through December 2008 he operated a document vending business from his residence in Smithville, Tenn., which he advertised via the Internet. In these advertisements, Neener falsely represented that he could provide customers with “authentic” military replacement documents which were “exact reproductions” of those originally issued and that he had contracts with military branches of the government.
Neener obtained more than $200,000 from customers who ordered thousands of
documents, which included honorable discharges and military awards. Neener had no authorization from any federal agency to either make or sell these documents.
Neener also used the official seals of various federal agencies on most of these documents, including the Air Force; the Army; the Navy; the Department of Defense; Homeland Security; the Department of Justice; Veterans Affairs; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Coast Guard; and the Marine Corps, without authorization to do so. He also either signed or copied signatures of various federal officials on these documents, which made it appear that the various awards or certificates were endorsed and authorized by such officials. On some documents Neener fabricated the names and official positions of federal officials and on others, he forged the signatures of real persons, identifying them by the federal positions they actually occupied, including a former Secretary of the Navy and a former President of the United States.
Quentin G. Aucoin, Special Agent- in- Charge of the VA Office of Inspector General- Southeast Field Office, stated, “the VA Office of Inspector General is committed to aggressively investigating unauthorized use of the official VA seal for personal gain.”
The case was jointly investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Postal Inspection Service, with assistance from the U.S. Secret Service, the Tennessee Highway Patrol- Criminal Investigations Division, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The United States was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hilliard Hester.
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