In 2014, Wisconsin resident Kenneth E. Jozwiak forged a DD-214 that claimed he was wounded four times while serving as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam, defrauding the Department of Veterans Affairs of $2,289.
Now, Jozwiak will serve four years in prison — coincidentally, one for each of the Purple Hearts he pretended to have.
On May 18, Jozwiak pleaded guilty to unlawfully exhibiting a military discharge certificate, theft of government money, making false statements to federal agents, and attempting to obstruct an official proceeding.
“This defendant’s lies about his service are an affront to those who saw combat and those wounded fighting on behalf of our nation,” David A. Sierleja, acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio told the court. “This defendant did neither, and falsely inflated his service record in an effort to get additional benefits.”
According to the court records, Jozwiak lied federal agents about his both his military service and decision to defraud the federal government in January 2015. Later, he tried to interfere with a material witness, resulting in a charge of obstruction.
Wisconsin is one of several states with harsh sentences for falsely claiming military service for any kind of personal gain New legislation, passed in July 2015, made stolen valor a Class A misdemeanor, punishable with up to six years in prison, and a $10,000 fine.
Was that measly $2,289 Jozwiak stole from the VA steep worth the risk? Probably not, but it sends a message to other would-be pretenders: Stolen valor, like all crimes, doesn’t pay.