News and Press Releases

Defendant Masqueraded as Decorated Vet, Making False Claims of “War Crimes”

September 21, 2007

JESSE A. MACBETH, 23, of Tacoma, Washington was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to five months in prison and three months custody in half-way house and three years supervised release for Making a False Statement. MACBETH made numerous false statements to the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs and held himself out publicly as a decorated war veteran who had witnessed and participated in war crimes in Iraq. In fact, MACBETH served a scant 44 days in the military and was discharged for his inability to meet basic requirements. Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik ordered MACBETH to participate in mental health treatment as part of his sentence.

MACBETH admits he applied for VA benefits using a falsified Discharge from Active Duty form. MACBETH claimed he had served from May 2001, to June 2004, that he had been an Army Ranger and attained the rank of Corporal, and that he had been awarded the Purple Heart for his service in Iraq and Afghanistan. None of those claims were true. Even more disturbing, MACBETH claimed in multiple interviews with various media that he had observed and participated in war crimes in Iraq. One production company even released a video on-line entitled, “Jesse Macbeth: An Iraq Veteran Speaks Out.” In the video MACBETH claims Army Rangers were ordered to “do whatever it takes” to strike fear in Iraqis. MACBETH claimed that he personally had killed more than 200 men, women and children. All of these claims were clearly false since MACBETH had never set foot in Iraq. Much damage was done through the circulation of such videos over the internet.

In his sentencing memo, Assistant United States Attorney Ron Friedman noted MACBETH “shows a history of lies told in order to negatively impact the lives of others, and which can be seen to contribute to his own self-aggrandizement.” The damage from MACBETH’s lies has been done, and cannot be undone, as the media interviews were translated into Arabic and disseminated over the world wide web.

“Too many people with a political agenda grabbed Mr. Macbeth’s story and ran with it,” said Chief Judge Robert S. Lasnik. “Any sober look should have lead people to believe it was all a made up rant,” Judge Lasnik said.

MACBETH apologized to the Veterans he defamed saying he regretted trying to take benefits from those who deserve them. “It’s been weighing on my mind and I feel bad about that,” he said.

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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