New Jersey law increase penalties for stolen valor

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TRENTON, NJ – Legislation sponsored by Senator Joe Pennacchio that would upgrade certain crimes of misrepresenting oneself as a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces was signed into law today by Governor Murphy.

“It is inspiring to see a veteran who has honorably served our nation return home and continue serving their community. Unfortunately, there are professional scammers right here in New Jersey who make a living by deceiving others into thinking that they are veterans—in order to claim financial benefits that are reserved for our actual veterans,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “My legislation will increase the punishments for such crimes and help curb this despicable behavior going forward. I am pleased that the Governor signed this bill into law today because all veterans should be provided easy access to the benefits they’ve earned, and anyone who knowingly impersonates a veteran in order to steal those benefits, should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

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The legislation, A-1121/S-1871, would upgrade certain crimes of misrepresenting oneself as a member or veteran of the United States Armed Forces or organized militia. These crimes would be elevated from third degree to second degree if the individuals obtain money, property, or other tangible benefits in the amount of $75,000 or more. A crime of the second degree is punishable by up to five-10 years imprisonment, up to a $150,000 fine, or both.

Methods of impersonating a veteran with the intent to deceive in order to obtain benefits include, but are not limited to: wearing the uniform or any medal or insignia authorized for use by the members or veterans of the U.S. Armed forces; or, holding oneself out to be a recipient of any decoration or medal created by federal and state laws to honor members or veterans.

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