Rhode Island wife Sarah Cavanaugh who posed as a sick marine sentenced to prison
A Rhode Island woman who lied about being a wounded Marine Corps veteran diagnosed with cancer was sentenced to nearly six years in prison and ordered to repay full restitution on Tuesday.
Sarah Jane Cavanaugh, 32, raised more than $250,000 in charitable contributions, veterans benefits and donations during her stolen bravery run.
“Today’s sentencing sends a strong message to those who would present themselves as something they are not in order to profit from the kindness and respect shown to our nation’s deserving veterans,” the officer said. Special Charge Christopher Algieri of the Office of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Inspector General’s Northeast Field Office said in a statement.
Fraudster, whose stint of stolen bravery spanned more than five years, acquired Marine Corps service uniforms to wear at public events and speeches while displaying a Purple Heart and Bronze Star with a device “V” for bravery in battle on his chest.
Cavanaugh claimed she served in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2009 to 2016 and was injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) while serving in Iraq.
She claimed that burns and inhaling particles from an explosive had caused her lung cancer.
Nine veterans’ charities gave Cavanaugh funds, which she used to pay for physiotherapy, home care, pensions, gym membership and electricity bills, and even gift cards for groceries and other essentials.
Cavanaugh received $207,000 from the Wounded Warriors project between 2017 and 2021, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of the Inspector General.
In an impact statement submitted to the court, a veteran Cavanaugh met through the Wounded Warrior Project slammed the scammer, saying she attended a veterans art therapy program that could have been used by a veteran in need of care.
The unidentified veteran revealed that a friend – who was also a veteran – had applied for the position but was turned down and eventually took his own life, according to the court document.
Cavanaugh raised $4,700 while raising money to help pay medical bills caused by the fabricated injury.
Cavanaugh pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft, false military discharge certificates, fraudulent use of military medals and four counts of wire fraud in July 2022.
“By brazenly claiming the honor, service and sacrifice of true veterans, this defendant attacked the charity and decency of others for her own shameless financial gain,” U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Cunha said. in a press release.
Suspicion of his false identity did not arise until early 2022.
The HunterSeven Foundation – a veteran-based charity – conducted a military service background check after applying for funds and finding out that she was a social worker for the Veterans Medical Center in Providence.
Cavanaugh’s lawyer, Kensley Barrett, had asked for a lighter sentence, citing her lack of a criminal history and the “heavy price” she paid through humiliation.
She initially faced a maximum sentence of 24 years before her plea deal.