Stolen valor: Man facing 15 years for lying about military wounds

Fabricated health problems to obtain VA benefits

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A South Carolina man is facing a maximum of 15 years in jail after he pled guilty to lying about military-related injuries and obtained benefits meant for wounded veterans.

Steven Mickey Bunker, 47, from Aynor, S.C., said that he was paralyzed due to injuries sustained in Iraq, and couldn’t walk, drive, eat or take care of himself without help, Justice Department documents charge.

Federal investigators say they found that Mr. Bunker was in fact healthy and was lying to collect money from the Veterans Affairs Department. All told, he was able to get $159,000 before being exposed.

The VA also gave Mr. Bunker $40,000 to purchase a special vehicle that could be driven by someone without the use of their legs, which he promptly traded for a Hummer instead, prosecutors said.

His story caught the attention of federal officials after the Myrtle Beach Sun News wrote a story on Mr. Bunker and then received multiple complaints that Mr. Bunker was not telling the truth.

Mr. Bunker is also facing several other charges, including the fact that he didn’t register as a sex offender after committing or attempting to commit a lewd act with a 16-year-old; and lied about prior felony convictions in order to purchase guns.

In addition to the maximum of 15 years, Mr. Bunker is facing a $250,000 fine. His mother and stepfather also pled guilty to charges that they helped him carry out the fraud.

 

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