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Calif. man who lied about Purple Heart accepts plea deal

By JANIS MARA | The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif. | Published: July 29, 2016

NOVATO, Calif. (Tribune News Service) — A disgraced former leader in Marin’s military community charged with lying about having a Purple Heart accepted a plea bargain Thursday and will not do prison time, his attorney said.

Gregory Bruce Allen, 68, of San Rafael, owner of the now-shuttered San Rafael House of Steel gym, pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco to a misdemeanor violation of the Federal Stolen Valor Act. He will be sentenced Nov. 3, according to his attorney, Charles Dresow of San Rafael.

The deal calls for three years of probation, restitution and a fine. The amount of the fine and restitution will be determined at the sentencing hearing, Dresow said.

Allen was charged with one count of fraudulent representations about receipt of military decorations or medals, a misdemeanor. According to allegations in the court documents, Allen used his fake Purple Heart to obtain donations for his business.

The statutory maximum penalty for the offense is one year in prison, a $100,000 fine and a year of supervised release.

“Mr. Allen is extremely remorseful and does not want what is happening with him to detract from the success of the young men and women he helped find a purpose and a goal in their lives,” Dresow said.

Attempts to reach Allen by phone were unsuccessful.

Numerous photographs exist of Allen wearing a Purple Heart and other military decorations.

According to an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Melissa Vanek, Allen served about eight months in the Navy, and “the only commendation that Allen received during his service was the National Defense Service Medal.”

Allen held fundraisers for House of Steel during which he wore a U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant’s uniform, claiming to have a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star and collecting donations for the business, Vanek wrote in the affidavit.

The Purple Heart is awarded to a member of the military who has been wounded or killed in action.

In the affidavit, Vanek said that from 2013 to 2015, about $23,000 in donated checks were deposited into bank accounts controlled by Allen.

A 2015 investigation by the Marines’ Western Recruiting Region found that Allen didn’t serve in the Marine Corps, as he had long claimed. The results of the investigation received wide publicity and Allen closed his gym.

Congress passed the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, amending the federal criminal code to make it a crime to fraudulently claim having received any of a series of military decorations and awards with the intention of obtaining money, property or other tangible benefit from convincing someone that the award was rightfully given.

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©2016 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.)
Visit The Marin Independent Journal at www.marinij.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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