Federal prosecutors say a former soldier who lied his way to a Purple Heart by faking injuries from the Iraq war cheated Washington state and the federal government out of more than $750,000, the AP reports. Darryl Wright, a former Idaho National Guardsman, appeared for sentencing Thursday in US District Court, where Judge Benjamin Settle said he wanted to hear additional testimony about Wright's mental health before issuing a punishment. Prosecutors are seeking a five-year prison term, arguing that Wright falsified statements from fellow soldiers to obtain two awards—a Combat Action Badge and the Purple Heart—and then parlayed those medals into a wide range of disability and other benefits, including forgiveness of more than $40,000 in student loans.
In applications for benefits, Wright claimed to be so severely disabled that he could only focus his attention for five to 10 seconds, and he said he needed a live-in caregiver. In reality, he served as chairman of his city's planning commission, coached high school basketball, and had held a full-time federal government job in Seattle. Wright claimed Social Security disability benefits, insisting he was frequently bedridden. He also allegedly submitted fabricated National Guard orders in an effort to be paid for a week of skipped work. Wright pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud early this year. Wright's Purple Heart has not been rescinded, prosecutors said. (Read more Purple Heart stories.)