One Courageous Marine Died While Another Deceived

'Marines don't behave like this,' says Casey Owens' sister of Brandon Blackstone's fraud
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 28, 2016 6:55 PM CST
"Marines don't behave like this," Casey Owens' sister says.   (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

(Newser) – "Marines don't behave like this." That's the disgusted assertion of Lezleigh Owens Kleibrink, whose late brother, Casey Owens, was an actual celebrated Marine—and whose identity was more or less assumed by a man who claimed most of Owens' achievements as his own. WFAA reports on how Owens quit college and joined the Marines right after 9/11. He had both of his legs blown off in Iraq in 2004 when his Humvee hit an anti-tank mine, and he suffered burns all over his body. "They were certain he was going to die," Kleibrink says of her brother, who was awarded a Purple Heart for his valor. "He broke everything you would possibly think of to break." While Owens went back home to the US to recover from his massive injuries, which kept him in constant pain, Brandon Blackstone, who had served in Owens' Iraq unit, started weaving his own life story around Owens'.

Blackstone claimed he was the one who suffered a massive brain injury from the explosion and that he was awarded the Purple Heart. His deception included fraudulently collecting disability checks by forging documents and even nabbing a mortgage-free house from a charity, the Dallas Morning News reports—until Owens' Marine pals discovered the con and the FBI got involved. Blackstone recently pleaded guilty to felony charges for wire fraud and fraudulent representation about the receipt of a military decoration for financial gain; he'll be sentenced in February and could get up to 21 years in prison. As for Owens, he couldn't take the pain and suffering any longer and killed himself in 2014. "These were supposed to be your brothers, and you steal valor from one of your brothers?" Owens' sister says, per the News. "My mom and I just feel so sad for this guy." (Meet the man who busts these "stolen valor" perps.)

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