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VANCOUVER MAN ADMITS HE LIED ABOUT MILITARY SERVICE AND MEDALS TO GET BENEFITS
Claimed to be Decorated War Veteran and Fraudulently Obtained Medical Benefits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 20, 2007

MERRICK HERSEY, 64, of Vancouver, Washington, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, Washington to Use of an Altered Military Discharge Certificate to obtain VA Compensation and Medical Benefits. HERSEY was charged as part of “Operation Stolen Valor”, an investigation by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General into those fraudulently claiming military service. HERSEY is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen L. Strombom on March 21, 2008.

According to the plea agreement, in February 2005, HERSEY filed a falsified military service discharge certificate and application with the Department of Veterans Affairs in order to qualify for Veterans Benefits. In the application, HERSEY claimed he was unable to work due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) sustained during military service.

The falsified military discharge certificate claimed: 1) that HERSEY was in active duty military service with the United States Marine Corps from June, 1967 through April, 1968; 2) that HERSEY had been awarded two purple hearts and a bronze star; and 3) that HERSEY received an honorable discharge

In truth and in fact, HERSEY never served in the United States Marine Corps, or any branch of the U.S. military, and he never was awarded any of the medals claimed.

Both the Bronze Star and Purple Heart are among the highest medals and commendations awarded by the military. The Bronze Star is awarded to soldiers deemed to have made an extraordinary contribution to the United States national defense. The Purple Heart is only awarded to soldiers who were wounded in actual combat.

On the basis of such falsified application, HERSEY received pension and medical benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs totaling approximately $2,687.00 to which he was not entitled before his fraud was detected.

Use of an Altered Military Discharge Certificate to Obtain Benefits is punishable by up to one year in prison, and up to a $100,000 fine. As part of his plea agreement, HERSEY agreed to pay full restitution.

The case was investigated by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ronald J. Friedman.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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