Man charged with using fraudulent Purple Heart to raise money

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According to an Associated Press article, Federal prosecutors have charged a Northern California man with lying about being a Marine Purple Heart recipient to raise $20,000 for a veteran nonprofit and his own military recruit training program.

The Marin Independent Journal says 68-year-old Gregory Bruce Allen of San Rafael spent eight months in the Navy in the 1960s but never was a Marine or wounded in combat to be eligible for a Purple Heart. Allen had been stating that he was a Marine Corps. Lieutenant at fundraising events.

The Marin Independent Journal also stated that Allen formerly used to run a gym called San Rafael House of Steel that was marketed as a place that prepared patrons for military service. Dressed as a decorated war veteran, Allen hosted annual fundraisers starting in 2010, to raise money for “Helping Heroes from Home” nonprofit, also known as Triple H, and his recruit training program. Court documents state Allen wore a Marine Corps uniform complete with a lieutenant insignia and ribbons at a fundraiser in October 2013. The documents indicate Allen had told a donor, who paid $40 to go to the event and later bought $600 worth of items in an auction at the benefit, that he earned a Purple Heart.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that photographs taken at various veterans events in 2013 and 2014 show Allen wearing a Marine Corps uniform with ribbons for the Purple Heart. According to the Chronicle article, a former business partner of Allen’s said, “he asked for help purchasing military memorabilia, including medals and uniforms. He used military catalogs like Sgt. Grit to buy the decorations, according to court records.” When his partner asked why he needed the items, Allen told him he had lost all his memorabilia, including a Purple Heart “during a fire or flood at a storage facility.”

An FBI statement said all of the checks (about $23,000) were deposited into three accounts controlled by Allen.

Allen was charged in the U.S. District Court of San Francisco with fraudulent representations about receipt of military decoration or medals, a misdemeanor. He faces up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

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