Georgia veteran who faked military honors gets max jail time

| August 20, 2020

We previously discussed Gregg Ramsdell when he was first accused of stolen valor and again when he pled guilty to stolen valor, he has now been sentenced to the maximum penalty.

A veteran who collected federal benefits after faking a mental health condition and who falsely claimed to have earned two military honors was sentenced to a year in prison.

Gregg Ramsdell, 61, of Columbus was also sentenced to three years supervised release and ordered to pay $76,000 to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

He pled guilty to a single count of violating the 2013 Stolen Valor Act.

Ramsdell admitted that he falsely claimed to have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder when he applied for disability payments from the VA on Sept. 7, 2014. Ramsdell wrote he witnessed horrible atrocities during deployment in Afghanistan from October 2008 to March 2009, including “men, women and children being executed. Women holding babies while detonating themselves. IED explosions causing severe bodily injuries and death. Retrieving body parts and bagging them.”

But Ramsdell was not in Afghanistan during period of time he claimed to witness the atrocities that supported his PTSD claim, and he admitted to investigators that he lied about having PTSD. In addition, Ramsdell obtained a civilian position at U.S. Army Fort Benning in 2017, in part because his resume listed that he was both a Silver Star and Purple Heart with Cluster recipient. He never received these honors.

Adios

Hat tip to the King of Battle for the story tip. Source; AJC

Category: Guest Link, Stolen Valor, Stolen Valor Act

Comments (29)

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  1. Combat Historian says:

    Serving in the military means SERVICE to your country and your fellow citizens; it does not mean exploiting such service to grift, con, lie, cheat, and steal. It’s a simple concept, but way too many folks don’t seem to understand that…

  2. A Proud Infidel®™️ says:

    Parading fake Military Service in Columbus GA? Brilliant! I hope Bubba, Thor and Julio have a ball with him!

  3. Ex-PH2 says:

    “Ramsdell admitted that he falsely claimed to have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder when he applied for disability payments from the VA….”

    I’mma gettin’ da paytayessday just from having to read these stories about grifters and thieves.

    • MarineDad61 says:

      Ex-PH2,
      I hear you… from all 4 walls… like Quadraphonic.

      • 5th/77th FA says:

        Still have and still rocking with the Marantz 4415 Quadradial Receiver/Amplifier, the 2 Sansui SP1200 Speakers and 2 Marantz Imperial 7 Speakers. Bought in Wiesbaden FRG in early ’73. Lost custody of the Teac Reel 2 Reel in the FIRST divorce in ’83. She only kept it cause she could. It was never hooked up and played again in the few years she kept it. She later sold it at a yard sale for $25.

        As API pointed out above, we hope he gets it from all 4 corners, Bubba’s, Thor’s, Julio’s, and “Mr. Tiny’s”

  4. Hondo says:

    Apparently there’s at least one judge out there who “gets it”.

    • AW1Ed says:

      Three years supervised release and restitution is a good start. As mentioned, some quality time with the usual jail thugs would be appropriate as well.

      • Hondo says:

        Looks like his sentence includes a year in prison plus 3 years of supervised release, AW1Ed.

        • AW1Ed says:

          Excellent! Reading comp is my friend.

        • RGR 4-78 says:

          1 year in prison, does that mean he is now a convicted felon?

          • Hondo says:

            Not a lawyer, but I’ll take a stab at this one. Any lawyer commenters reading this, please correct me if what I say below is incorrect.

            Under Federal law, whether or not he’s a felon depends on precisely which law(s) he was found guilty of violating and the maximum possible sentence(s) he could have received for those crime(s). The max sentence for each crime is considered separately.

            Here’s how Federal law defines a felony in 18 USC 3156(a)(3) (emphasis added):

            (3) the term “felony” means an offense punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of more than one year;

            I believe the max sentence under the 2013 Stolen Valor Act is exactly 1 year. If that’s all he was convicted of (and he apparently pleaded guilty to that), I’d guess the answer is no. However, the fact that he has an additional 3 years of “supervised release” may mean he was convicted of something else as well. Since he was ordered to pay serious restitution, financial fraud against the VA comes to mind.

            Fraud against the USG is definitely a felony. So if the latter is the case, then yes – he’s a felon.

          • rgr769 says:

            It depends on whether the count and statutory offense he was convicted of violating carries a penalty of more than one year of incarceration. The actual time he serves or is sentenced to serve is not controlling over whether it is a felony. How his lawer got the prosecutor to let him off the major felony fraud claims is beyond me. There are at least three different offenses inclusive of his fraud on the VA, and Stolen Valor is not one of them. They could have also nailed him for Stolen Valor offense(s) in connection with his DA civilian employment at Ft. Benning.

  5. 26Limabeans says:

    Does the VA just take someones bullshit story and issue an award letter?
    The rule for Viet of the Nam vets was three claimend “incidents” with at
    least one verifiable with documents just to get your foot in the door.
    Pretty high bar back then. I have no idea what they require now but after
    reading this blog for a few years it seems like not much.

    • ninja says:

      26Limabeans asked:

      “Does the VA just take someones bullshit story and issue an award letter?”

      In this case, YES. This guy did not even serve:

      “Fake SEAL Pleads Guilty to Stolen Valor, Stealing from VA”

      https://www.military.com/daily-news/2020/07/23/fake-seal-pleads-guilty-stolen-valor-stealing-va.html

      “A man who pretended to be a Navy SEAL, Silver Star recipient and prisoner of war in order to collect more than $300,000 worth of free heath care from the Department of Veterans Affairs has pleaded guilty to charges including healthcare fraud, stolen valor and abetting illicit gun purchases.”

      “Richard Meleski, 58, of Chalfont, Penn., was indicted last November for his scheme to defraud the VA, which included not only health care but also monetary compensation for post-traumatic stress he claimed was due to service in Beirut, where he said he rescued other wounded troops. He also submitted another application for compensation to the VA in which he “included obituaries of actual Navy SEALs alongside whom he had supposedly served,” according to a U.S. Department of Justice release.”

      “In reality, according to the DOJ, Meleski never served a single day in uniform and had earned no medals.”

      “Meleski’s indictment, obtained by the Philadelphia Inquirer, showed he had claimed a number of other combat-related injuries.”

      “[Eighteen-hour] hostile takeover. Became POW, during this tour. Beaten, shot, head injury, tortured. Hospitalized in Germany for injuries sustained. Crushed hand. Shrapnel,” Meleski wrote in a request for benefits. He claimed his service took place in the 1980s.”

      “The Inquirer also reported that Meleski had claimed he injured his knee jumping out of a window with a dead SEAL on his back.”

      “Meleski also requested disability benefits from the U.S. Social Security Administration for service-related injuries, and falsely testified under oath in an SSA disability hearing, DOJ officials said.”

      “Because Meleski claimed to be a POW, officials said, he was bumped up in the VA priority list to Group 3, meaning he got health care ahead of many deserving veterans who had earned it.”

      Meleski was featured twice on TAH last year:

      https://valorguardians.com/blog/?p=92966

      https://valorguardians.com/blog/?p=93156

      • ninja says:

        Additionally, lots of folks out there claiming Prisoner of War status to obtain VA Disability $$$. Most likely, there are more out there that have not been caught yet:

        “POW Benefit Claimants Exceed Recorded POWs”

        https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/pow-benefit-claimants-exceed-recorded-pows

        “There are only 21 surviving POWs from the first Gulf War in 1991, the Department of Defense says. Yet the Department of Veterans Affairs is paying disability benefits to 286 service members it says were taken prisoner during that conflict, according to data released by VA to The Associated Press.”

        “A similar discrepancy arises with Vietnam POWs. Only 661 officially recognized prisoners returned from that war alive — and about 100 of those have since died, according to Defense figures. But 966 purported Vietnam POWs are getting disability payments, the VA told AP.”

        “Being classified as a POW doesn’t directly increase a veteran’s monthly disability check. There’s no “POW payment.”

        “But a tale of torture and privation can influence whether a vet receives some money or nothing at all in disability payments — and the VA’s numbers raise questions about how often such tales are exaggerated or invented altogether.”

        “For one Korean War veteran, a made-up story helped to ensure more than $400,000 in benefits before his lies were discovered. A Gulf War vet told a tale of beatings and mock executions, though he was never even a POW. Four women Vietnam vets blamed disabilities on their time as prisoners — even though there’s no record of female POWs in that war.”

        “At the root of the problem is a disconnect between two branches of government: The Defense Department determines POW status and posts the lists online; the VA awards benefits, but evidently does not always check the DoD list to verify applicants’ claims. Result: Numbers of benefit recipients that are higher than the number of recognized POWs.”

        • Mason says:

          Thanks for posting that. That’s one that always surprises the shit out of me. Talk about government waste.

      • Combat Historian says:

        I think the change happened during obamao administration. Obamao ordered the Shinseki VA to end its huge backlog of claims by acting on virtually all claims presented at face value, and document and investigate later. This obviously opened up a huge can of phony fraudulent worms, and two-bit phonies who never served a single day would present claims attested to by corrupt doctors, and VA would take their word and pay them, and VA retroactive documentation and investigation would usually never catch up with these frauds unless an embittered girlfriend or divorced wife squealed on them to the VA IG, which happened only very infrequently…

    • 26Limabeans says:

      CORRECTION:
      The word I used above, “incidents” should be “stressors”.
      That’s what the VA used.
      We all had “incidents”……..

  6. ninja says:

    Thank You, KoB, for providing the AJC article.

    Here are some additional information with excerpts from the Ledger-Enquirer, Columbus, GA, home of the US Army Infantry, Fort Benning, GA.

    Check out what his Lawyer hoped for his sentence.

    Also, check out Ramsdell’s photo in the article depicting him in uniform:

    ‘Shameful.’ Retired Columbus Soldier Sentenced For Using Fake PTSD Claims To Get Disability”

    https://www.ledger-enquirer.com/news/local/crime/article245046590.html

    “As he sat Tuesday in a federal courtroom in Columbus, awaiting his sentencing on charges of making false statements and violating the Stolen Valor Act, the judge wanted to know why.”

    “Do you have any explanation for this?” U.S. District Judge Clay Land asked the 62-year-old.”

    “I really have none, sir,” Ramsdell answered.

    Land asked whether Ramsdell understood that what he did was “shameful.”

    “Yes sir,” Ramsdell replied. “I’m extremely, extremely sorrowful for my actions…. It was stupid, and I can’t say that word enough.”

    “Under sentencing guidelines, he faced up to a year in federal prison, which his attorney, Zach Alsobrook of Opelika, hoped Land might let Ramsdell serve on probation, telling the judge Ramsdell’s wife has lupus and needs care, and Ramsdell’s own age and health put him at risk of catching COVID-19 in prison.”

    “Land would not allow that. Noting Ramsdell took money from the taxpayers by claiming stress from combat in which he was never involved, Land sentenced him to a year in federal prison and ordered him to pay $76,000 in restitution.”

    “But the judge did not order him detained immediately. Ramsdell may report to prison when a date for his surrender has been set, the judge said.”

    “In court Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Melvin Hyde said Ramsdell’s misconduct went beyond “bar bragging,” or using false glory for free drinks and slaps on the back. Claiming a Purple Heart with a cluster was particularly galling, the prosecutor said.”

    “That’s an insult to the people of this country who have been in the service and been wounded…. He felt the need to fabricate and to profit from lies,” Hyde told the judge.”

    • KoB says:

      Y’all Welcome ninja, and Thank You for capturing the Ledger Enquirer piece. Their linky would not capture at 0GOD30 hours this AM for me. Not sure if it was their end, my end, or just the inherwebz. There was some of them thunder boomers twixt here and yonder. The AJC was a little sketchy but it finally settled down and loaded. I was actually on the hunt for FGS stuff and lucked up on it.

      Until the punishment for this type of criminal activity is swift, sure, and draconian it will continue. I personally think that full restitution followed by flaying, flogging, or drawing and quartering, on the Court House Square, with film at 11 would be a good start.

  7. Green Thumb says:

    I guess All-Points Logistics and Lori Benton did not have enough to amount a vigorous defense of this clown.

    Sad.

    Much like Paul-mer (of the ballsack), they just cut him loose”.

  8. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    And not a single fuck was given to the fate of said shit bag….

  9. Anonymous says:

    BS-ing 101– don’t lie to someone who’ll check, like the Army and the VA. (Although, in this case, they didn’t seem to fast on the uptake.)

  10. Skyjumper says:

    I believe this is Gregg Ramsdell’s LinkedIn account.

    “Highly refined interpersonal skills to thrive in challenging environments….”

    Yeah, he’s going to need that skill set with Bubba, Julio, Tiny and Thor. (grin)

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/greggramsdell