Pa. House bill would make 'stolen valor' cases a misdemeanor offense

By J.D. PROSE | Beaver County Times, Pa. (Tribune News Service) | Published: June 16, 2016

Anyone who attempts to benefit from lying about being a veteran or earning military decorations and medals could face criminal charges under a bill proposed by state Rep. Rick Saccone.

“Our service members deserve the utmost honor and respect, and criminals who deceitfully masquerade as veterans degrade our true American heroes,” Saccone, R-Elizabeth Township, said in a statement released Thursday.

Saccone’s Stolen Valor Act, House Bill 2050, passed the House Judiciary Committee in a 25-1 vote Tuesday and was then referred to the House Rules Committee.

Under the bill, a person falsely claiming to have military service or honors to try to obtain money, property or other types of benefits could be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor.

Saccone, an Air Force veteran, told colleagues in an April memo that the legislation would cover cases in which someone tries to receive veteran or health-care benefits or receiving preference in hiring or government contracting by claiming veteran status.

He also said the bill was about more than just people trying to benefit from lying about their service.

“This kind of fraud is despicable, and, in particular, it is terribly disrespectful to our nation’s veterans,” he wrote in the memo.

In 2013, Congress passed the federal Stolen Valor Act, which also addressed those who might lie about having military decorations and medals, such as the Congressional Medal of Honor or Purple Heart, in order to obtain benefits.

Those convicted of violating the federal law can face fines and up to a year in jail.


©2016 the Beaver County Times (Beaver, Pa.)
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