- NYC’s de Blasio seeks to ban wood-burning fireplaces
- Residents angry Obama mispronounced town’s name during mudslide visit
- Israel halts peace talks with Palestinians
- Netanyahu’s driver accused of raping girls under age 12
- Putin calls Internet ‘CIA project’ that must be controlled
- Muslims offended that 9/11 museum movie speaks of jihad
- Obama marks Armenian massacre, avoids using the word ‘genocide’
- Gov. Rick Perry: ‘It’s not a dare, it’s a promise’; Texas will fight BLM
- Howard Dean cheers Obama’s approach to Russian aggression
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s childhood nickname? ‘The Surprise’
Exposer in Stolen Valor case fired
10-year Marine heard boasts as corporate host
On a tour bus trip to Southern California Edison’s Big Creek power plant, event planner Melissa Campbell was passing out snacks to dignitaries when one of them asked her a question that would change both of their lives and make U.S. judicial history.
“Do you know who I am?” asked Xavier Alvarez, an elected member of a local water board, not waiting for an answer.
“I am a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.”
Nearly five years later, Mr. Alvarez, who never served in the military, stands among dozens who have been convicted under the federal Stolen Valor Act, a misdemeanor crime that carries a sentence of up to one year of imprisonment for lying about receiving military honors. After Mr. Alvarez’s appeal, his widely publicized case recently went before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Less attention has been paid to the fate of the woman who helped expose Mr. Alvarez and who brought him to the attention of the FBI. Ms. Campbell, the event planner serving Mr. Alvarez snacks on June 27, 2007, was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served her country for 10 years.
But after exposing Mr. Alvarez’s medal claim as a hoax — later reporting to the FBI what she viewed as a crime in progress — Ms. Campbell said she wasn’t thanked by her employer. Instead, she said, she was fired.
“I was told it was unprofessional to confront him,” she told The Washington Times in a recent interview. The company did not respond to inquiries about her departure, citing a policy of not commenting on personnel matters. Mr. Alvarez declined through an attorney to comment.
Ms. Campbell now works as a family readiness officer for the military. She has politely declined the offers from a parade of lawyers inquiring whether she would like to file a lawsuit against her former employer. She told them she was not interested. While she still wants her name cleared, she said, she doesn’t want to spend any more time thinking about Mr. Alvarez.
Still, given renewed attention to the case, Ms. Campbell agreed to speak about how Mr. Alvarez’s stories of brave heroism unraveled, setting off an unforeseen chain of events that would lead 3,000 miles away to the nation’s highest court.
Ms. Campbell said she joined the utility company as a security officer and later worked on the corporate events staff. She said she received only good employee reviews and even won one of the company’s highest employee awards.
As a planner in the events department, she helped set up meetings and off-site events, including tours for local politicians and dignitaries at the company’s Big Creek Hydroelectric System plant located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. The company would give two- or three-day tours of the plant to local officials, she said.
There were dinners and cocktails, as well as talks from specialists on issues important to the company, she said. Ms. Campbell said she had been on plenty of trips. Her job was to coordinate tours and oversee transportation and the guests.
Before boarding the bus to Big Creek, Ms. Campbell said she and Mr. Alvarez made small talk about both having been in the Marine Corps. He said he spent about 25 years in reconnaissance, she said, recalling the first hint of something amiss. She said she had never heard of anyone in reconnaissance for such a long time. Still, she said, she quickly put any doubt out of her mind and went about doing her job.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Government watchdog mismanages funds
- Transparency's end: Sen. Richard Blumenthal fights subpoena of own records in union case
- GSA IG helped recover Depression-era masterworks
- HHS nominee Sylvia Burwell entangled in MetLife lawsuit
- HHS nominee got $1.2M at 'zero' salary job at Wal-Mart
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Andrew P. Napolitano
Obama's veil of secrecy is pierced
- In its hunt for Senate, Republican candidates campaign against Harry Reid
- Obamacare class-action suit opens a new legal front
- 'Top Gun' for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy's approval
- Obama avoids 'red line' for China, prepared to impose tougher sanctions on Russia
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- 'Conservatives' should feel exposed by Bundy's racist comments: Scarborough
- Sold out: Ukraine's leadership swapped best military weapons for cash
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Texas is next! AG warns BLM wants 90,000 acres after Bundy ranch standoff
- Rand Paul: Bundy's racist remarks are 'offensive'
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014