COLUMBUS, Ga. (via WRBL) — A Columbus man accused of stolen valor has pleaded guilty to multiple charges in federal court.
Gregg Ramsdell, 61, entered the pleas for stolen valor and making false statements earlier this week in front of U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land.
Ramsdell faces up to six years in prison and a $500,000 fine when he is sentenced in March.
WRBL News 3 first reported that Ramsdell had been indicted in August. Ramsdell, a discharged Army veteran, reaped monetary benefits for faking a mental health condition triggered by a combat experience that did not occur, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office of the Middle District of Georgia. He also falsely claimed to have earned two of the highest honors bestowed for military service in order to obtain civilian employment at Fort Benning.
In his guilty plea, Ramsdell admitted that he falsely claimed to have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when he applied for disability payments from the Veteran’s Administration (VA) on September 7, 2014. He witnessed horrible atrocities during deployment in Afghanistan from October 2008 to March 2009.
According to the indictment, Ramsdell stated he had seen “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. Having blood and body excrements being blown onto my uniform.” He also falsely claimed that these experiences made him “unable to live a normal life.”
Ramsdell was not in Afghanistan during that time. And he collected $76,000 in disability benefits he may not have been entitled to.
In addition, Defendant Ramsdell applied for and attained a coveted 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, according to the U.S. Attorney.
“Faking serious wartime injuries to gain undeserved benefit, and claiming valor where there is none, do a disservice to our brave veterans and service members who selflessly risk their lives protecting this country,” said U.S. Attorney Charlie Peeler. “Fraud of this kind and theft of taxpayer money will not be tolerated, and we will continue to prosecute those who commit such crimes.”
Peeler praised the FBI investigators who worked the case.
“Ramsdell’s actions are an insult to every veteran who has served our country, and in particular every veteran who suffered physical or mental trauma because of their honorable commitment and valor,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI is committed to seeking justice for anyone who lies about serving our country, and who illegally takes money from federal programs that help veterans who rightfully deserve it.”
The Stolen Valor Act of 2013 makes it a crime for people to pass themselves off as war heroes in order to claim money, employment, property or other tangible benefits. The Silver Star medal is the third highest honor bestowed by the U.S. Army. The Purple Heart medal is awarded to members of the U.S. Armed Forces who are wounded or killed in battle. An additional Oak Leaf Cluster is given to Army and Air Force service members to indicate being wounded in combat on more than one occasion.
The case was investigated by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Melvin Hyde is prosecuting the case for the government.