Friday, July 16, 2010

Stolen Honor--Fake Marine Guilty in Fraud Prosecution

AZCentral is reporting the story of the Scottsdale resident who has been convicted by a local jury of multiple counts of fraud arising out of pretending to be a Marine hero.  Colin Lecher's story follows:

"A Scottsdale man who pretended to be a decorated Marine was found guilty Monday on 12 fraud-related counts in Maricopa County Superior Court.   John W. Rodriguez (pic), 31, was convicted by a jury on charges of forgery, fraudulent schemes and presentation of a false instrument for filing.

Investigators were first alerted to Rodriguez after a former Marine saw him introduced as a decorated veteran at a special military function, according to officials at the state Department of Public Safety. The man noticed Rodriguez's uniform was not complete and thought it was odd for someone his age to be wearing the Navy Cross.

After researching Rodriguez, the man found he had never been in the military. The DPS took over the investigation and found Rodriguez had pretended to be a decorated veteran at several functions and had listed himself as currently serving in the military on his driver's license.  DPS officers served a search warrant at Rodriguez's home in June 2009 and uncovered several Marine uniforms and medals. He was arrested a week later at Sky Harbor International Airport after returning from a trip."
You'll recall that we talked about efforts to prosecute this act under specific laws designed to prevent "stolen honor."  These laws are constitutionally-flawed in the sense that they run headlong into the First amendment protected speech, idiotic and obnoxious as such acts are.  The thing I found interesting about the Arizona Republic story is that it was a successful prosecution utilizing existing criminal statutes that are focused on criminal behavior, not speech or well-meaning unnecessary flag waving law. 
As a US Army veteran I noted with pleasure that this asshole, Rodriguez, was outed by a genuine veteran who noted something, all veterans notice--flaws in the uniform.  After I served, whenever I saw a television production or movie featuring someone in uniform, technical flaws in the character's uniform would ruin the drama for me.  This could be anything from the haircut, a proffered salute, or obvious things about the uniform, insignias or decorations.  When you serve, from day one you learn how to walk, hold your hands when at rest, salute correctly (trust me it's not obvious), walk and stand upright.  Uniforms and hats are worn according to strict rules and regulations, the same with medals like the Navy Cross.  It's not just that a 30 year old fake leatherneck is rocking a Naval Cross, it could be as simple as how the medal is worn that can be a dead give away. 

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