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KaczmarczykIn spite of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 28 decision striking down the Stolen Valor Act and upholding citizens’ right to free speech, there are still laws on the books for civil and criminal fraud—obtaining some advantage or material benefit from propagating lies—that can be used against veteran impostors. A Tennessee man charged in District Court on August 24 with stealing from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration pleaded guilty to four of the eight counts against him and could face up to 30 years in prison when sentenced in December.

According to, Federal prosecutors said Charles Chester Kaczmarczyk, 59, an Air Force veteran who barely left U.S. shores and never saw a day of combat, swindled the government out of close to a half-million dollars in disability. Kaczmarczyk falsified combat records, faked papers for medals, including the Purple Heart and the Silver Star, and filed for veterans’ and Social Security benefits to the tune of nearly $458,000, Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Bolitho said.

Kaczmarczyk’s wife, Martha, 62, is also charged with falsifying documents and was to be tried in late September.

Kaczmarczyk has a long history of impersonating a war hero. In 2008 he spoke to a “captive audience” of University of Tennessee students, telling “story after story about his role in special operations missions over the past 30 years,” the University’s Tennessee Journalist reported on April 9, 2008, under the headline “Special Operations Air Force Chief Tells Stories About His Missions in Vietnam, Iraq.” The article describes how “Kaczmarczyk discussed the final evacuation of Saigon in April 1975, the rescue of American citizens from Cambodia in 1975, a complicated rescue attempt to Iran in 1980 and a recently declassified military operation in Zaire in 1980.”