Another Stolen Valor Arrest

R ichard David McClanahan says he’s served twice in Iraq and once in Afghanistan. He has stated that his three Silver Stars and three Purple Hearts proves it. McClanahan, 29, is charged in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Texas with bank fraud, a felony, and two misdemeanor counts of falsely claiming military awards or decorations he didn’t earn, including Silver Stars, Purple Hearts and a Medal of Honor.

    The Army does concede that McClanahan’s official records include an Army Commendation Medal and two Army Achievement Medals, but no awards for valor. His only overseas assignment was a year-long tour in South Korea from 2003 through 2004.

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Photo courtesy of www.dramarillo.com
 
    The Army also reports that it kicked McClanhan, a former medical soldier, out of the service after serving prison time while facing similar charges. In April 2005, while assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment at Fort Hood, Texas, McClanahan was ordered to report to Fort Knox, Ky., for pre-trial confinement in the regional correctional facility. McClanahan had been charged with claiming he had 21 awards and certificates he didn’t earn, including the Silver Star and Purple Heart. He also was accused of misleading his superiors about his qualifications as a medic, lying to his battalion commander and falsifying his records in order to get a promotion.
    
    Nevertheless, McClanahan was not convicted. In July 2005, In lieu of a court-martial, he was reduced from sergeant to private and handed a less-than-honorable discharge.

Not Alone
    
    The FBI receives an average of 15 tips a week alerting them to military phonies, said Mike Sanborn, a special agent in the Washington, D.C., field office. The recent federal “Stolen Valor” legislation is intended to curb the trend by expanding the prohibition against wearing, manufacturing or selling military decorations or medals without legal authorization and outlaws “falsely representing oneself as having been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the armed forces or any of the service medals or badges.”
    
    Louis Lowell McGuinn, also a former soldier, was arraigned June 13 in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York for allegedly wearing awards and decorations he didn’t earn. McGuinn is accused of claiming to be a lieutenant colonel who had earned a Distinguished Service Cross, a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts.
    
    According to the the U.S. attorney’s office, McGuinn was discharged from the Army in 1968 as a private. He then changed his name and date of birth.. The U.S. attorney’s office said McGuinn told at least one security company that he was a Special Forces lieutenant colonel in order to get a job as a security consultant, and he was seen and photographed at social functions wearing decorations he didn’t earn. McGuinn pleaded not guilty to the charges. Attorneys in the McGuinn case will be back in court Aug. 17 to argue motions.
    
    On June 21, the FBI in Los Angeles announced that Augustine Hernandez, 76, of Montebello, Calif., had been charged with posing as an Army major general. Hernandez claimed to have earned a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. During a December ceremony to posthumously honor Guy Gabaldon, a Marine, with a Navy Cross for his actions during WWII, the FBI photographed Hernandez wearing the rank of a two-star general and decorations he didn’t earn.
    
    Records obtained by the FBI show Hernandez was honorably discharged from the Army in 1954 as a private first class. The documents contained no record of valor awards, according to the FBI.

   Charged, again

    McClanahan was arraigned June 13 in Amarillo, Texas, for the charges now pending against him in federal court. He pleaded not guilty.

    The court will address any outstanding motions during a pretrial conference Aug. 2, and McClanahan’s trial could begin as early as Aug. 14, said Christy Drake, the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case.

    The felony charge, which accuses McClanahan of misstating and inflating his income on a financial statement in order to get a car loan, carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million, Drake said.

    The charge of falsely claiming he had three Silver Stars, three Purple Hearts and the Legion of Merit carries up to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine. The final charge, falsely claiming he received a Medal of Honor, carries a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

    “The case has raised a lot of local interest and ,” Drake said.  Some of that interest is driven by the Web site founded by Robin Beard, www.dramarillo.com, on which she keeps a blog and updates the case against her husband. She said much of what led her to marry McClanahan she now believes turned out to be fiction. She said she feels victimized and does not want that to happen to anyone else, if she can help it.

    “Here stands a man who once had everything,” the Web page says. “A supportive family, a great future in the medical field and what once was thought to be an honorable past in the military. The tales he spun are now catching up with him in rapid succession. The truth shall prevail.”

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