News and Press Releases

Defendant Masqueraded as Decorated Vet, Making False Claims of Service And Medals In Attempt to Qualify for Compensation

June 7, 2007

JESSE A. MACBETH, 23, of Tacoma, Washington pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to the offense of making false statements, a felony under federal law. MACBETH made numerous false statements to the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs in an effort to qualify for medical disability compensation and held himself out publicly as a decorated war veteran who had allegedly earned the Purple Heart and witnessed war crimes in Iraq. All of this was false.

According to the plea agreement, during the Fall of 2005, MACBETH submitted a claim to the Department of Veterans Affairs in Seattle for compensation, supported by phony documents, in which he falsely stated: 1) that he was in active duty service with the United States Army from May 1, 2001, through June 13, 2004; 2) that he had achieved the rank of Corporal and was an Army Ranger; 3) that he had been awarded a Purple Heart, one of the military’s highest decorations; 4) that he had served in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq; and 5) that he had been discharged from the military for medical reasons related to post traumatic stress disorder. In truth, as he then well knew, these statements and representations were materially false in that: 1) the defendant was only in the United States Army from May 1, 2003, to June 13, 2003 (just 44 days); 2) he left the military as an entry level private, and never achieved the rank of Corporal, nor was he an Army Ranger; 3) he never received a Purple Heart or any military decorations; 4) he never served in Operations Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom, and his 44 days with the military were served in Fort Benning, Georgia; and 5) he was discharged from the military for issues related to entry level performance and conduct prior to completion of basic training.

In addition to the above, the defendant acknowledged as part of his guilty plea that between 2003 and 2007, he participated in multiple interviews and recorded statements in the media and on the internet in which he made statements and claims concerning his military service, including having personally witnessed and participated in war crimes in Iraq. These statements and claims were completely false.

Making a False Statement is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Sentencing is set before the Honorable Chief Judge Robert S. Lasnik on September 21, 2007.

The case was investigated by the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ron 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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