A Wisconsin man who claimed to be a Navy SEAL who was wounded four times in Vietnam was sentenced to four years in prison for theft and falsifying paperwork.
According to a Department of Justice release, Kenneth E. Jozwiak, 68, produced fake discharge paperwork in 2014 to receive VA benefits for low-income veterans.
He exhibited a DD-214 that claimed he was a highly decorated Navy SEAL who received four Purple Hearts and was a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran.
Jozwiak only served in the military for one year out of a four-year enlistment from 1967 to 1968 and never deployed overseas.
He also had a substantial criminal record with several theft-related convictions.
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.
Jozwiak went to extended lengths to embellish the story that he created for himself.
“He went as far as accompanying a child to an elementary school and representing himself as a Navy SEAL there and as having received all of these awards,” Assistant U.S. Attorney David Toepfer told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Additionally, in 2015, Jozwiak made false statements to federal agents about his military service and his activities in defrauding the federal government of $2,289 though veterans benefits.
He also “attempted to obstruct an official proceeding by tampering with a material witness,” according to court documents.
“This defendant’s lies about his service are an affront to those who saw combat and those wounded fighting on behalf of our nation,” said David A. Sierleja, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “This defendant did neither, and falsely inflated his service record in an effort to get additional benefits.”
“He has a criminal record dating back to 1975. He’s been arrested over 120 times in multiple states,” Toepfer told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
In Wisconsin, stolen valor is punishable of up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine.