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Press Release

Hardin County, Kentucky Man Guilty Of Impersonating A Soldier For Financial Gain

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A Hardin County, Kentucky, man pleaded guilty in United States District Court today, before District Judge John G. Heyburn II, to charges of pretending to be an officer of the United States, wire fraud, making false statements or representations, and entering government property under false pretenses for the purposes of committing a felony, announced David J. Hale, United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky.

Jonathan Wade Short, age 23, despite being a civilian with absolutely no record of service in the armed forces of the United States, admitted to falsely impersonating a United States soldier for a period between March 8, 2012, until December 7, 2012.

Further, during August 2012, Short admitted in court to meeting A.V., the daughter of a retired member of the armed forces, on a social networking site where he falsely claimed to be a highly decorated soldier, who had been on multiple deployments, and received high military honors (including the Purple Heart). Approximately one month later, when the two met for the first time in person, Short, dressed in a complete Army Combat Uniform (ACU) wearing the rank of Sergeant, a Combat Infantryman Badge, and Parachutists Badge, Combat Patch, and a Ranger tab. While dating A.V. in Daviess and Hardin Counties and elsewhere, Short, who was accompanied by A.V., repeatedly demanded and obtained financial benefits and discounts only entitled to current and former members of the armed forces of the United States. Short possessed at least seven Army Dress Uniforms, with accompanying ribbons, badges, and medals, and wore them in public and on social networking sites as part of his continuous effort to impersonate a decorated combat veteran.

Between October 6, 2012, and approximately November 16, 2012, in Hardin County, defendant Short, did repeatedly ask A.V. to send him money under the false premise that he needed money to help defray the expenses related to his son’s emergency medical treatment at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. Short actually had no son who was ill or hospitalized. In fact, he demanded the money from A.V. in order to exploit A.V.’s belief he was a noble soldier in a desperate family and financial situation. During the two month period, A.V. gave Short nearly $1,000.

On or about December 7, 2012, Short admitted to A.V. he was not a Soldier and that he solicited money from her based upon false pretenses. Moreover, he refused to return the solicited funds upon A.V.’s request. Further, on or about October 11, 2012, at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in the exclusive territorial jurisdiction of the United States, Short was apprehended once Military Police at Fort Knox for attempting to impersonate a Soldier. Once an investigation revealed the extent of his fraud, he was apprehended and detained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation near Springfield, IL. If convicted at trial, Short faced a possible combined maximum term of 23 years in prison, a combined maximum fine of $500,000 and a ten year term of supervised release. Sentencing is scheduled for September 15, 2013, at 1:00 pm, in Louisville, before Judge Heyburn.

This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Milton A. Turner and was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Updated December 15, 2014