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Wannabe "Hero" pleads guilty to lies about war honors

Svnla

Lifer
Nov 10, 2003
17,999
1,394
126
http://www.dallasnews.com/shar...itaryscam.30310c2.html


'Hero' pleads guilty to lies about war honors

Car loan application trips up man who had embellished his military career

10:02 PM CDT on Friday, August 10, 2007


By STELLA M. CHÁVEZ / The Dallas Morning News
schavez@dallasnews.com


To those who met him, Richard David McClanahan was quite the hero, an attractive man with an impressive military career. Three Purple Hearts. Three Silver Stars. Two tours in Iraq. One tour in Afghanistan. He was a POW being considered for the Medal of Honor.

Courtesy
Richard David McClanahan of Fort Worth pleaded guilty this week to one count of making false statements and one count of making false claims about receipt of military medals. He faces a maximum statutory sentence of 31 years in prison and a $1.1 million fine.

The only problem was none of it was true.

"He'd wake up in the middle of the night, saying he was having flashbacks to when he was a POW," recalls Robin Beard of Amarillo, his soon-to-be second ex-wife. "I think it was just his conscience keeping him up."

As Ms. Beard would later discover, the man to whom she had pledged sacred vows was not the man she thought he was. He had conned her and every other woman in his life, she said. He'd conned his family. And he'd conned the military ? lying about awards and badges, as well as his education and experience, and falsifying military documents.
Military medals

Richard David McClanahan pleaded guilty this week to making false claims about receiving military medals. Here is a look at his military record:

HONORS HE EARNED:

Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, Army Commendation Medal, two Army Achievement Medals, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, two National Defense Service Medals, Korea Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Marksman Marksmanship Qualification Badge with Rifle Bar and Aviation Badge

SOME HONORS HE CLAIMED TO EARN:

Medal of Honor nomination, three Silver Stars, three Purple Hearts, the Legion of Merit, Parachutist Badge, Special Forces Tab, Prisoner of War medal and service in Iraq

Sources: Dallas Morning News research, POW Network, www.dramarillo.com, U.S. attorney's office.

In April 2005, the Army found him guilty of wearing unauthorized awards and badges, reduced his rank from sergeant to private and sentenced him to 100 days of confinement. On July 25, 2005, he was discharged from the Army under "other than honorable conditions."

Mr. McClanahan continued the lies, which eventually caught up with him. In May, he was indicted in U.S. District Court on charges of making false statements on a bank form and lying about receiving military medals. On Thursday, he pleaded guilty in federal court in Amarillo to one count of making false statements and one count of making false claims about the receipt of military medals.

Mr. McClanahan, 29, who now lives in Fort Worth, according to federal officials, faces a maximum statutory sentence of 31 years in prison and a $1.1 million fine. A sentencing date has not been set.

Mr. McClanahan and his attorney could not be reached for comment Friday.

'Stolen Valor'


The Stolen Valor Act, which President Bush signed into law in December, makes it a felony to impersonate military heroes by falsely claiming to have been awarded the nation's top military decorations, such as the Medal of Honor. The law not only prohibits people from wearing unearned medals but also bans them from claiming to have earned such awards verbally or in writing. The act is named after the book Stolen Valor , which was co-written by B.G. "Jug" Burkett of Dallas.

A news release from the U.S. attorney's office explains that the false statements charge relates to financial documents Mr. McClanahan submitted to a bank detailing his income and assets for a car loan. He "had grossly inflated his income" and "he admitted that he knew at the time he completed the financial statement that it was false and he did it to influence the financial institution to approve his loan," according to the release.

Paul Harpole, vice president and partner of John Chandler Ford dealership in Amarillo, said he fell for Mr. McClanahan's lies ? at first. He had heard him speak to a group of parents of West Point students and was brought to tears by his stories.

A couple of days later, he received a letter from Mr. McClanahan asking if the dealership would donate a car because of his military record. He later showed up and apologized for writing the letter.

The dealership tried to help him find financing so he could buy a car instead. That's when Mr. McClanahan falsified information on his loan application and changed a document he received from the bank.

Some of the things Mr. McClanahan said seemed exaggerated or untrue to Mr. Harpole, a veteran of the Vietnam War. So he contacted the FBI with his suspicions.

"He was so blatant about it," he said. "He was out there telling this story and collecting money. He was a con artist deluxe."

One letter Mr. McClanahan showed Ms. Beard about being considered for the Medal of Honor was dated March 13, 2007.

After detailing his supposed heroic actions as a Special Forces medical sergeant in northern Iraq, the letter states: "Laura and I are praying for you and your family." But it is signed George H.W. Bush, the president's father.

Ms. Beard, who has filed for an annulment of her marriage, is now trying to help other would-be victims of Mr. McClanahan's scams.

"My perspective is more of a victims' advocate," she said Friday. "I just want people to know so they can make an informed decision. I don't want them to be stuck with a $30,000 debt."

Since learning about her husband's habitual lying, Ms. Beard has received e-mails from girlfriends he had while married to his first wife. She's also been in touch with some of his more recent girlfriends ? women he has dated since he and Ms. Beard broke up in April. One bought him a car and a cellphone, she said.

"I'm up to six, if not eight" girlfriends, she said of the women she's been in contact with.

Scholarship


According to court documents, Mr. McClanahan graduated from Boys Ranch High School near Amarillo in 1997. He spent five or six years at Cal Farley's Boys Ranch, said Dan Adams, president and CEO of the organization.

Citing confidentiality reasons, Mr. Adams said he could not comment on Mr. McClanahan's behavior or record while living there. Boys Ranch is a nonprofit organization that takes in children via private referrals from parents or relatives who are having trouble with their kids.

Mr. Adams said he was disheartened to hear the news about the former resident.

"I think it's unfortunate, especially when you have a war going on," he said. "I'm sorry for him and his family and the people he has hurt. But I think when you do things like that, society tends to hold you accountable, and I think that's OK."

Federal officials say Mr. McClanahan received $9,500 in scholarship money from Boys Ranch.

Mr. Adams said alumni are eligible to receive scholarships if they meet certain criteria, including passing grades. He said Mr. McClanahan was going to school to obtain a nursing degree and met the criteria when he received the funds.

In military circles, both online and in organizations, the reaction to his claims ranges from shock to condemnation.

Charlie Skipper, a retired master sergeant who served 15 years in the Special Forces and spent a total of 23 years in the Army, said he knew Mr. McClanahan was up to no good when he read his bio.

"I took one look at it and instantly knew he was a fraud," he said. "To have three Silver Stars is just unheard of. ... There were so many things on that bio that made no sense."

Mr. Skipper's commander asked him to investigate because Mr. McClanahan had been invited to speak at the Amarillo Armed Forces Day banquet, an event sponsored by the America Supports You organization.

Mr. Skipper called a friend in the Special Forces ? nobody had heard of Mr. McClanahan or his purported military achievements.

'Outlandish'


During his research, Mr. Skipper contacted the POW Network, which ultimately uncovered a number of false records through open-records requests directly to Fort Bragg and Fort Benning. The documents show he was never in the Special Forces.

Mary Schantag said Mr. McClanahan spent 100 days in the brig for forging documents, but his record was never corrected.

"His story was outlandish and didn't ring true from the start," she said.

Ms. Schantag, whose nonprofit organization has no paid staff but has volunteers working every day, said, "We have more frauds than ever, but no one to deal with it."

She said the network receives 12 requests every day. About once every week, the network reports fraud to the FBI and inspector general's office.

"This is an epidemic," she said. "It is a disgrace. It is morally and ethically wrong. Guys are doing it by the thousands, changing history. And there's little we can do about it."

The POW Network started 18 years ago to tell the stories of former prisoners of war but has evolved into an investigative agency.

Veronica McClanahan, Mr. McClanahan's first wife, said that he told her about one of his supposed Purple Hearts but that she didn't hear many of the tales that would come later.

"He only said it [the Purple Heart] was for what he did in Korea but he wasn't allowed to disclose what happened," she said.

She said she was there when he was court-martialed in 2005 for wearing medals he didn't earn.

"He lied about a lot of things," said Mrs. McClanahan, who is now friends with Ms. Beard, the second Mrs. McClanahan. "I think that was his favorite thing to do."
 

effee

Golden Member
Sep 4, 2004
1,797
0
0
I have 39 Silver Stars..also have the Legion of Merit and Purple Heart. Parachutist badge is easy to get. Working on Expert Medic now.
 

Cdubneeddeal

Diamond Member
Oct 22, 2003
7,476
3
81
Originally posted by: Gobadgrs
Originally posted by: adairusmc
I hope he gets the full 31 years in prison and the million dollar fine.
I hope he gets pounded in the ass in prison.
I doubt that will happen. He probably also has a medal for the toughest person in the military. Having been shot four times through the heart he hiked 20 miles to the nearest base.
 

Injury

Lifer
Jul 19, 2004
13,066
2
0
Originally posted by: effee
I have 39 Silver Stars..also have the Legion of Merit and Purple Heart. Parachutist badge is easy to get. Working on Expert Medic now.
hahaha... I was thinking the same thing.

He probably was furiously clicking refresh on BF2s to see if all of those awards appeared.
 

Injury

Lifer
Jul 19, 2004
13,066
2
0
Originally posted by: Cdubneeddeal
Originally posted by: Gobadgrs
Originally posted by: adairusmc
I hope he gets the full 31 years in prison and the million dollar fine.
I hope he gets pounded in the ass in prison.
I doubt that will happen. He probably also has a medal for the toughest person in the military. Having been shot four times through the heart he hiked 20 miles to the nearest base.
... and singlehandedly (literally, because one of his arms was cut off in a prison camp) thwarted an attack by al Quieda forces attempting to take over a base with nuclear arms.
 

jadinolf

Lifer
Oct 12, 1999
20,952
3
81
87
I didn't know there was a new law in place. Great idea.

I'd better stop bragging about my sharpshooter medal.

Only kidding, the Air Force didn't award them.

 

mugs

Lifer
Apr 29, 2003
48,900
10
81
After detailing his supposed heroic actions as a Special Forces medical sergeant in northern Iraq, the letter states: "Laura and I are praying for you and your family." But it is signed George H.W. Bush, the president's father.
:laugh:
 

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