Metro-East News

Iraq War veteran lied his way to a Purple Heart and $750,000

Purple Heart
Purple Heart

An Iraq veteran named Darryl Lee Wright, who prosecutors say, lied his way to a Purple Heart by claiming falsely that he was severely wounded by an insurgent rocket attack in 2005, allowing Wright to claim $750,000 in federal benefits, according to a story published by The Washington Post.

To give his lie some heft, court documents say, Wright persuaded military officials to award him a Purple Heart and a Combat Action Badge.

In his application for one honor, he included a picture of a charred military vehicle that investigators later determined had nothing to do with the not-so-near-miss in Kirkuk, Iraq.

“Darryl Lee Wright built an entire myth system on these two awards, relying on them to obtain every possible benefit that might be available to a wounded veteran,” assistant U.S. attorneys David Reese Jennings and Gregory Gruber wrote in a sentencing memo, according to the Associated Press. “Every time he won or qualified for a benefit, Darryl Lee Wright used the new benefit to bolster his claims for yet another undeserved benefit.”

The war story helped Wright bilk the federal government out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in disability benefits — at one point receiving more than $10,000 a month, according to prosecutors.

Following an investigation that involved no fewer than 10 federal and state agencies, Wright was indicted in what the Justice Department described as an “extensive benefits fraud scheme.” Federal prosecutors initially said Wright bilked the government out of $250,000; the government now says the figure is more than $750,000.

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A day after four Iranian boats harassed a destroyer in the Persian Gulf, a similar squad of vessels came after three more U.S. ships on Wednesday, according to a U.S. Navy spokesman as reported by the Military Times.

The destroyer Stout and the coastal patrol ships Tempest and Squall were all approached throughout the day by small boats, 5th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Bill Urban told Navy Times, escalating to three warning shots fired, as Iranian paramilitaries seek more confrontations in the Persian Gulf.

Tempest and Squall had two run-ins on Wednesday. First, three Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy vessels proceeded across Tempest’s bow within 600 yards on three occasions, risking a collision.

Tempest blasted the ship’s whistle three times while trying to establish radio contact, but received no response.

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The White House is condemning the Syrian government Thursday after having announced that a year-long UN-backed investigation found that both the Assad regime and ISIS had used chemical weapons, according to CNN.

“It is now impossible to deny that the Syrian regime has repeatedly used industrial chlorine as a weapon against its own people,” U.S. National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement Wednesday.

    The NSC statement went on to accuse the regime of violating the Chemical Weapons Convention and a U.N. resolution.

    The investigation, led by the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention, was launched a year ago at the behest of members of the U.N. Security Council with the aim of identifying the perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

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    A House Democrat is pushing the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, to lower the price of its PreCheck program for veterans, according to The Hill.

    In a letter to TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger this week, Rep. Bill Pascrell urged the agency to either scrap or discount the expedited screening program’s $85 enrollment fee for veterans.

    The New Jersey Democrat raised concern that it may be “prohibitively expensive” for many of them.

    “These brave men and women have a long, well documented history of service to our nation,” Pascrell wrote. “Given the sacrifice that our nation’s veterans have made, I urge you to examine the feasibility of instituting a program that would allow veterans to participate in the TSA PreCheck program free of charge or with a discounted application fee.”

    The PreCheck program allows passengers who have undergone background checks to move through expedited security lanes without taking off their shoes or removing electronics from their bags.

    The price of the program covers five years.

    Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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