Man accused of forging military discharge documents in bid to be fire chief in Georgia
By TERI FIGUEROA | The San Diego Union-Tribune (Tribune News Service) | Published: April 27, 2018
Authorities in Georgia have accused a Campo, Calif. man of supplying officials there with forged military discharge documents as part of his bid to be the fire chief in an Atlanta suburb.
An arrest warrant for Robert Kenneth Hume accuses him of submitting paperwork to officials in Marietta, Ga., showing he’d earned military honors — including a Silver Star — that he did not actually receive, and showing that he’d achieved a higher rank than he did while serving in the U.S. Army.
An email to Hume on Thursday was met with a call from attorney David S. West, Hume’s lawyer in Georgia. West said his new client will go to Georgia to surrender himself and address the matter.
“Right now we don’t have any comment on the reason this occurred or what may have happened — but I can tell you that he retained me, and we are going to appear and address this,” West said.
“He’s not running away from this. He wants to deal with it. Within the next couple of days we are going to have a chance to get the warrant taken care of.”
He said that, to his knowledge, no Marietta authorities had contacted his client to discuss the accuracy of the information.
The warrant, which has a $10,000 bond, was signed by a Georgia magistrate on April 17. It charges Hume with forgery and false statement or representation as a military veteran. The accusations are made under Georgia state law, not as a violation of the federal Stolen Valor Act, which makes it a crime to make fraudulent claims about military service with the intent of obtaining a tangible benefit.
According to the warrant, Hume is accused of altering a military discharge document known as a DD214 to show that he had earned a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and other medals including a Purple Heart during his Army service.
The warrant also accuses Hume of presenting paperwork stating that he’d “earned the rank of master sergeant, when the highest rank actually obtained was sergeant.”
The investigation started after Hume submitted an application in early April for consideration to become the town’s fire chief, a job that comes with salary ranging roughly from $91,000 to $140,000.
Marietta spokeswoman Lindsey Wiles said Thursday that the city’s director of human resources — himself a retired military man — caught anomalies in Hume’s documents while going through the stack of application packets for the chief’s job.
“He did human resources in the military as well, and he is quite well-versed in what (discharge documents) should look like,” Wiles said.
Marietta police Officer Chuck McPhilamy said the human resources director reached out to police and asked for help investigating. Once the detectives verified what they say was forgery and misrepresentation of military records, they secured a warrant. They did not seek Hume’s extradition from San Diego County.
Details about Hume’s background were not immediately clear.
A Campo resident with the same name served as a member of the Campo Planning Group after his election to the body in 2010. According to a short biography in a November 2010 story in East County Magazine, candidate Hume “had 22 years of experience in the US Army as a medic,” and had been a full-time paramedic/firefighter in Georgia, was also a member of a fire department in Campo.
The Union-Tribune could not immediately verify whether that candidate was the same Robert Hume.
Marietta is about 20 minutes outside of Atlanta, and has a population of about 65,000. The fire chief runs a department with an annual budget upwards of $12.5 million. The previous chief retired in November after 40 years with the department, the last 18 in the top job.
A total of 66 people applied to replace him. The city is in the interview process.
“We are confident we will get the right person,” Wiles said.
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