Erie County Legislator Edward Rath has introduced Erie County’s Theft of Valor Law that makes it a crime to impersonate a veteran or member of the military for financial gain. Those found guilty of would face criminal misdemeanor charges and fines.
“Erie County is joining municipalities across the country that are standing with our military veterans, and admonishing those who falsely present themselves as members of the military or a veteran for personal financial benefit. It is incredibly disrespectful of all men and women who have bravely served our country to have individuals who are not only parading around as veterans, but also taking benefits, money or other goods,” said Legislator Rath, sponsor of the law. “As my law states, ‘such actions are disgraceful and tarnish the accomplishments of those men and women who truly earned their military decorations. Further, an individual who fraudulently represents him or herself as a decorated veteran in order to obtain money, property or other tangible benefits should be subject to penalty.’”
Many members of the military community believe strongly in the Theft of Valor Law and fully support it.
“While military service is something to be proud of, opportunities for individual recognition of that service are unique. Although individually awarded, many veterans attribute their success and individual decorations to a collective effort. Personally, the Meritorious Unit Commendation, an individual decoration, received by our unit for actions in Iraq is one of the awards of which I am most proud," said Roger L. Woodworth, Army Veteran and President & CEO of the Veterans One-stop Center of WNY. "However, we must not ignore the benefits that are associated with these decorations for the individual so awarded, and ensuring that misrepresenting military decorations that were not earned and that the individual does not rate is, thanks to this legislation, no longer just an insult to those who did earn them and what those decorations represent, but will now be punishable on a local level.”
This county law follows amendments to the federal criminal laws and provides local law enforcement the ability to arrest and convict those guilty of Theft of Valor. By having a local Theft of Valor Law, the Erie County Legislature enhances our community’s ability to fight against this fraud and stop those who are pretending to be veterans or members of the military.
As the process moves forward, all residents will be welcome to speak at a public hearing on the law to voice their input. Additional information to be announced soon.
For additional information or questions about a county issue, please contact Legislator Rath at 858-8676 or e-mail email@example.com.