Fake Marine Busted After Reunion

Banker shows off chestful of medals to old classmates
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2009 2:30 AM CST
Fake Marine Busted After Reunion
Steven Burton is seen at the 20th high school reunion party for Alhambra High School in Martinez, Calif.   (US Attorney's Office)

A man who'd been a nerdy, unathletic band member at his California high school shocked classmates recently by turning up at his 20th reunion as a highly decorated Marine. Classmates were duly impressed by Steve Burton's transformation, but one, now a Navy commander, was so stunned by Burton's chestful of medals that he sent photos of Burton in his uniform to military authorities. They discovered that he'd never served a day in the forces, much less earned a Purple Heart or Navy Cross.

Turns out it's not only pathetic but illegal to pose as a Marine: Burton, a banker in real life, has been hit with a charge of unauthorized wearing of military medals or decorations under the Stolen Valor Act. He could face up to a year in jail, a penalty that sounds harsh to some classmates. "I don't think they should prosecute him. It's a waste of taxpayer dollars," a former classmate tells the San Francisco Chronicle. "I think maybe he should write a formal apology to Marines everywhere."
(More US military stories.)

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