Purple Heart Fraudster Gets 3 Years in Prison

He scammed $650K in benefits
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 2, 2017 12:03 AM CDT
Soldier Who Lied His Way to Purple Heart Gets 3 Years
Former National Guard soldier Darryl Lee Wright leaves a courtroom at the U.S. District Court in Tacoma, Wash.   (Gene Johnson)

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a former soldier who lied his way to a Purple Heart to three years in prison and ordered him to repay nearly $650,000 in stolen government benefits. Darryl Wright, 48, a former Idaho National Guardsman, feigned injuries from an explosion in Iraq in 2005 and doctored statements from fellow soldiers to obtain two awards, a Combat Action Badge and a Purple Heart, which is reserved for those wounded in action, the AP reports. The Army has since revoked the awards, though Wright still has the medals. Prosecutors, who said he defrauded 16 state, federal, local, and private agencies, programs and organizations, were seeking a prison term of five years.

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 the planning commission in Snoqualmie, Wash., coached high school basketball, and had held a full-time federal government job in Seattle. The VA paid his sister to be his live-in caregiver, though investigators said she performed no such service. By May 2013, the siblings were bringing in benefits totaling $10,000 a month, prosecutors said. Wright's attorney said the sentence was fair. He described the defendant as a "complicated man" with psychological issues, but said he has been doing well in therapy. (More Purple Heart stories.)

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