Rochester Man Pleads Guilty To Producing Counterfeit Military Id Cards And Making False Statements
CONTACT: Barbara Burns
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ROCHESTER, N.Y. U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced that Mark Allen Kelly, 54 of Rochester, NY, pleaded guilty to possessing and producing counterfeit military ID cards and making false statements to federal agents before U.S. District Court Judge Frank P. Geraci. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig R. Gestring, who is handling the case, stated that Kelly repeatedly lied about being an Officer in the United States Navy. Kelly regularly wore naval uniforms around town as well as to work, where he falsely told his employer that he was working at area Reserve Centers after his shift. The defendant lied about being on active duty with the Navy when he rented an apartment in Rochester and received a military discount on his rent as well as other financial benefits as a result of his false statements.
The defendant’s landlord became suspicious about Kelly’s military affiliation when his first month’s rent check bounced. The landlord also had a friend, who was a former United States Marine Corps Officer, who questioned the many ribbons and awards displayed on Kelly’s uniforms which included the Silver Star and a Bronze Star awarded for Valor. Kelly also wore Naval Flight Officer’s Wings. They confronted Kelly in June of 2014 in the presence of a Rochester Police Officer and Kelly presented a counterfeit, but authentic looking military Common Access Card to support his false personation.
In addition to wearing a Navy uniform around town, the defendant also regularly wore full dress naval uniforms at Veterans and ceremonial events. This included a memorial for a fallen Marine killed in Afghanistan in August 2014, where Kelly presented a flag to the Marine’s parents. When questioned, the defendant supported his false claims by presenting an authentic looking, but fraudulently made, military ID card.
The defendant’s conduct came to the attention of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) who began a criminal investigation after getting a tip from the defendant’s landlord. During the investigation, NCIS Agents from Naval Weapons Station Earle traveled to Rochester to interview witnesses. In September 2014, Kelly was interviewed by NCIS Agents and he made several false material statements. Kelly lied to the agents about his status with the Navy, his rank, his dates of service, and the characterization of his discharge. Each time agents confronted Kelly about his false statements, he would change his story to try to alter the facts to mislead the agents.
At the time agents interviewed Kelly, he was wearing a naval uniform without rank insignia or ribbons. He initially claimed he liked wearing the unmarked uniform because it was comfortable. However, Agents noticed that his uniform shirt had fresh holes consistent with recent wearing of rank insignia and a rack of ribbons. When confronted, Kelly produced a rack of ribbons which he had removed from his shirt before meeting with the agents. The rack contained 28 ribbons including awards for service in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as for service in support of Operation Desert Storm and the liberation of Kuwait. Kelly also had several Navy uniforms in his apartment including a Navy Dress Blue Uniform, a Dress White Uniform, and a Digital Pattern Camouflage Uniform, all with Officer Rank insignia attached. Kelly also had multiple awards and framed certificates on his walls commending his bravery and valor for Combat Operations in both Iraq wars as well as Afghanistan.
However, during the investigation, NCIS Agents reviewed Kelly’s official military record and learned that Kelly was actually discharged under Other Than Honorable conditions from the Navy in 1981 for misconduct. At the time of his discharge, Kelly held the rank of Seaman Recruit or E-1, the lowest enlisted rank in the Navy. Records showed that during the two and a half years Kelly was actually in the Navy, he was never a commissioned Officer or a Chief Petty Officer as he had claimed to investigators.
Naval criminal investigators also recovered several false military ID cards in various stages of production from the defendant’s place of employment after he was terminated. These authentic looking, but counterfeit, cards contained the defendant’s photograph in uniform, and contained various fraudulent ranks including Master Chief Petty Officer and Lieutenant Commander.
The plea is the culmination of an investigation by Special Agents of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Leo Lamont, NCIS Northeast Field Office.
Sentencing is scheduled for May 6, 2015 at 3:30 p.m. before Judge Geraci.